“Whether I die or I live, that is for the Lord,” says Preetha*, a Christian woman from India. She doesn’t say it lightly – her decision to follow Jesus very nearly cost her life. But by the grace of God, and thanks to your support and prayers, she survived. This is her story.
When Preetha woke up in the hospital, the first thing she felt was pain – pain all over her body, pain in her leg, in her head, in her hand. She looked down at her hand – it barely looked like a hand. There were deep cuts in four of her fingers and her palm, and blood was everywhere.
Her eyes welled up with tears. ‘What happened?’ she thought, trying to make sense of the situation. Slowly, it came back to her. The drunk men. The iron rod.
Her son sat with her – and he was also crying. “I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said. “The doctors are saying they won’t treat you because we’re Christians. Where can we go now?”
Tears were streaming down Preetha’s face now. ‘I’m going to die,’ she thought.
Preetha and her family had come to faith several years before, when they were looking for a cure for Preetha’s daughter, Mirai*. She had suffered from a skin disease since childhood, and they tried everything the Hindu priest suggested, but nothing worked. Then someone told them that Jesus could heal her. “If this God will heal her, I will serve Him for the rest of my life,” Preetha had said. And after a pastor prayed for Mirai in the name of Jesus, she was healed!
Preetha’s husband Navin* eventually became a pastor. Sadly, not everyone was happy about their new faith. People threatened them, telling them to stop gathering their church, to stop their ministry. These people said that Christianity was a foreign religion, that they were ‘anti-Indian’ for following Jesus.
And finally, these threats turned to action.
Preetha and Mirai had gone with Navin to pray with a lady from their church, Vinita. Vinita’s husband was at work, but she had her baby girl there, and her sister was there too.
After they spent some time in prayer together, they were having some tea, when they could hear a commotion outside. Then suddenly, a group of men barged through the door – within seconds they filled the small house. They stank of alcohol.
It all seemed to happen so fast. The leader of the group grabbed Navin by the shirt. “We don’t want your foreign religion here!”
The other men smashed everything in sight. Preetha watched in horror as one of them grabbed Vinita’s baby and threw the little girl on the ground. The baby screamed. Preetha rushed forward to pick her up, but one of the men caught her by the arm. He was holding a metal rod, and he lifted it up high above her head. Preetha held up her hand to try and stop the blow – and then everything went dark.
In the hospital, Vinita came and sat next to Preetha’s bed. Her baby was in her lap – thank God, the little girl had somehow survived the ordeal without any serious injuries. Vinita didn’t seem to have been as lucky – there was blood on her head, and on her hands, but she wasn’t as severely wounded as Preetha. Vinita’s eyes were closed – she was praying. Preetha heard her whisper, “Father, you alone show your power. Heal us.”
Preetha had seen God heal – he healed Mirai’s skin right before her eyes. But would He choose to heal her this way? Or was He calling her home?
In fact, God had another plan.
Thanks to your support and prayers, Open Doors local partners were able to take Preetha to a different hospital and pay for her treatment. Preetha says, “Had Open Doors partners not helped us, I would have died.”
Sadly, the attack on Preetha and her family was not an isolated incident – hundreds of believers were physically attacked because of their faith last year.
Many more Christians in India experience discrimination – and this can be just as deadly. Not only was Preetha almost beaten death – medical professionals in a government hospital also refused to treat her, and would have let her die, simply because she is a Christian.
Your prayers and support are enabling Open Doors local partners to provide vital practical and spiritual support for persecuted believers like Preetha, helping them to survive, but also showing them that they are not forgotten by their global church family, or by God.
Preetha says, “I want to say thank you, not just to God but also to his people who have helped us. My heartfelt gratitude.”
*Names changed for security reasons.
Please continue to stand with your church family in India in prayer and action:
- Pray for Preetha’s continued healing. Her hand has been permanently damaged, and still causes her pain.
- Pray that God will change the hearts of the extremists who carried out this attack and draw them to Himself.
- Pray for protection for our church family in India against attacks like this.
- Pray for Open Doors local partners in India, for wisdom and energy. Pray that they will be able to reach those most in need of support.
Will you act now to save the church in India?
Your support could be vital for Indian Christians facing persecution and the pandemic.