Sumitra became a Christian in her 30s. She’d been ill, had constant headaches and was tired of seeing different doctors and praying to different gods and goddesses.
“But one day, my friend took me to a church, and when I was prayed for by the pastor, I experienced peace and complete healing. It was then that I decided to follow Christ.”
However, her husband opposed her decision. Over the years he grew violent. Sumitra says: “I feared him but I continued to go to church secretly; however, he always found out and beat me, threatening to kill me if I continued doing so.”
It wasn’t just from her husband that Sumitra encountered opposition – it also came from her local community. As the family was poor, she needed to earn money, but she was told to leave many different jobs when people found out about her faith.
During all this, Sumitra stood firm in her faith in Jesus and kept praying. Today, her husband is evidence that persevering in prayer works:
“I continued praying and after 10 long years my husband stopped tormenting me,” she explains. “He had also been depressed and acting strangely – he started coming along with me to church in the hope of being healed like me. Praise God, he experienced healing and accepted Christ as his personal Saviour!”
Sadly, hostility from locals remain. The family are outcasts, deemed unclean because they left age-old traditions for Christianity. They are barely spoken to and, as with many from Sumitra’s church, job opportunities are painfully scarce. This type of exclusion is the most common form of persecution in India, depriving citizens of basic privileges – including access to a community well, meaning Christians will sometimes need to walk over five kilometres just to get drinking water.
Image: Sumitra working at the chip making business
Thanks to your generosity, Open Doors partners have been able to assist with work opportunities, giving impetus to an idea Sumitra’s church, led by Pastor Hari*, had some years ago but couldn’t quite get off the ground. The plan was for struggling families to generate income by producing chips to be sold at a local market, however they didn’t have the machinery or raw materials to make it profitable.
“Thankfully, Open Doors partners came in as an answer to our prayers and made our feeble hands strong by providing us with better machines and good raw material,” Ranu*, Pastor Hari’s wife explains. “Our people are also able to save money which had been never possible before.”
Pastor Hari adds, “The business is now yielding a profit. It provides a small, regular income to several families from the church. This initiative adds to their other income sources and makes them more financially stable.”
That’s certainly the case for Sumitra. “I am now able to fulfil the needs of my family,” she shares. “My financial status is much better now. I am now self-sufficient and no longer jobless. I am so glad as I am also able to support my church with my work.”
And opinions of the Christian community is changing – despite opposition, the business has afforded some of the Christians more respect. And, three new families have recently chosen to follow Jesus too!
The 10 years before her husband found Jesus understandably left Sumitra discouraged on many occasions. But she made a promise to God that her faith would remain unshaken. And it has – and she puts this down to the strength given to her by God through the Holy Spirit, the Bible and the help of Open Doors supporters.
“It was not easy – 10 years of verbal abuse, threats and beatings,” she reflects. “But God was the source of my strength in my suffering. I did not stop going to church. It’s only God’s strength that enabled me to stand strong, or I would have not survived.
“Whenever I was discouraged, I remembered Joshua 1:5 which says, ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you’. This encouraged me and I promised to God that, even if my husband left me, my faith would not be shaken. I would never leave Jesus because He is the real God. Even if we suffer for Him, He will surely reward us later, and it is never in vain. Not only this, but He suffered for the sake of my sin on the cross, so even if I suffer, He understands my pain.”
She concludes, “Now we are seeing this time of favour, I want to thank all Open Doors partners for helping us in so many ways. The way they stood with us during our hard times is amazing. I thank you for bringing happiness in my life.”
Could you get sponsored to choose to lose something you love for a short time to raise vital funds for Christians like Sumitra who have given up so much to keep their faith in Jesus? Sign up and we’ll send you an awesome fundraising pack in the post!
*Names changed for security reasons
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.