Rupesh came to know Jesus when he was 24. His His youngest son was about a year old at the time, and suffering greatly from a disease that doctors could not cure. Rupesh and his wife visited various temples and shrines in their desperate search for a miracle, hoping to appease any god who could heal their little boy. But all of their efforts came to nothing. Rupesh and his wife were discouraged and losing hope.
One of his relatives told Rupesh about Jesus, and prayed for his son. Miraculously, the boy started getting better. Very soon, he was growing up as normal, as if he had never been sick at all. Rupesh could not stop giving thanks to the Lord for this gift of life. His family started attending a small house church near their village.
However, people in his village started noticing that Rupesh was always talking about his son’s healing, proclaiming the goodness of the Lord. He was taken aside once and told to stop going to church. He was told to stop speaking about Jesus. He did not understand why his neighbours were threatening him. He just knew that Jesus was real, and that he wouldn’t leave Him.
In many rural India communities, a local tribal council can make key decisions and will often organise people. Rupesh’s conversion didn’t go un-noticed.
“I kept trying to say, ‘Jesus is real. I have seen the goodness of the Lord. He is merciful and life giving.’”
First the church was attacked. Rupesh says, “Hindu extremists came in a big mob and surrounded our church. They demanded that we stop praying in the name of Jesus, and instead go back to our tribal faith. We were threatened with dire consequences if we did not pay heed. About 50 of them went on to break down the church in front of us as we watched helplessly.
But the church kept meeting, which again, angered many of Rupesh’s neighbours. Eventually, the attacks centred directly on Rupesh himself. He remembers being beaten very badly by a group of men:
“Through the blows, they kept repeatedly asking why I called myself a Christian. With each blow they said, ‘Now tell us, will you still go to church?’ Through the pain, I only repeated what I knew. I kept trying to say, ‘Jesus is real. I have seen the goodness of the Lord. He is merciful and life giving.’
During this violent episode, the attackers also damaged Rupesh’s home.
Rupesh and other Christians in the village continue to be hard pressed by their community. The council has denied them access to the village well, and they have to travel far to find someone who is willing to sell them daily necessities. The police are unwilling to register a complaint against Rupesh’s assailants.
One day, feeling discouraged, Rupesh was deeply troubled. He was worried for the future of his family. There seemed to be no way ahead. Through the despair, he heard a voice in his heart assure him, “Do not be discouraged, I am with you.” He knew immediately that it was the Lord speaking to him and assuring him to stay strong.
Encouraged greatly, he asked other believers to pray for his situation. One of the pastors known to him got in touch with Open Doors local partners to ask us to pray for Rupesh. Since then, Open Doors local partners have supported him with prayer and emergency aid. They would like to provide him with further support, but the situation in his village is still very sensitive, and they are concerned that if it is too obvious that Rupesh is receiving outside support this could endanger him further.
When asked why he doesn’t leave and go somewhere safer, Rupesh says, “I don’t want to go from my village to any other place. I will stay. Only then will God’s name be spread in my village.”
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.