After a brutal beating … why does Mehr still follow Jesus in India?

July 5, 2022 by Christopher Summers in Persecution updates

Mehr,* a young Indian believer in her early 20s, wears an elegant red scarf with a pattern of gold leaves around her head. She places her hands in her lap and smiles.

There are some white flowers in a vase on a table by the window, and beside it, Mehr’s Bible. Outside the window, the late afternoon sun shines through the leaves of a tree, dappling the room with light.

Mehr lives with her elderly parents and two sisters. She grew up as a Hindu in a Hindu family within a Hindu community. However, Mehr had always struggled with a chronic illness and could not find healing or peace through her Hindu religion.

featured in presence magazineOne day, an uncle invited her to a church service. At that service, she first heard the gospel and desired to follow Jesus. Later, her mother and sisters heard God’s Word through a pastor as well, and the entire family committed their lives to Christ.

“I came to know Jesus as the true Healer—the living God—and I gave my life to Jesus,” Mehr shares.

But the whispers in the community were inescapable:

Mehr and her family started to attend church…

They left the Hindu gods. Stay away from them…

She changed her religion—she must be doing it for money…

“Their words hurt momentarily, but my unexplainable joy in Christ overpowered all the opposition. The persecutors haven’t come across Christ. I believed and prayed that they would experience Jesus the same way we did,” Mehr adds.

When anger turns to violence

After attending a local prayer meeting, Mehr’s mother and sister were stopped in the street by neighbors. This time angry comments escalated into physical violence, and the people began to beat her mother and sister. Mehr saw this from a distance and ran to rescue them, but the aggressors also began to attack her.

Mehr’s eyes well up with tears as she explains the situation: “The attackers started to beat me mercilessly and tried to strangle me with a cloth. I went unconscious, and a bystander called for an ambulance and stopped the attackers. I was wounded and bleeding and suffered several injuries across my body.”

When Mehr finally woke, she was in the hospital and saw her mother and sister at her bedside, with blood on their bodies and torn clothes. “You’re in critical condition,” her mother said. It took her a moment to understand where she was.

During her time in the hospital, Mehr wrestled with anxiety. “Why would my neighbors attack me so viciously? How will I face them?” she thought. She felt hopeless and even contemplated taking her own life.

“I was in shock and numbness after the incident,” Mehr shares. “I was not aware of my surroundings; everything came shattering down in my life. I grew weak. I lost my job. I did not speak to anyone and was always lying on the bed. I was in constant fear that the attackers would look for us again. I experienced anxiety and panic attacks whenever I remembered the attack.”

But her mother and sister encouraged her with Scripture and worked hard to lift her spirits—reminding her of the hope she has in Christ. They pointed her to Psalm 23: “for you are close beside me, your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

Mehr testifies: “It is true that I was unable to understand all that was happening. However, when my sister or mother prayed with me, I was revitalized and strengthened by the Word of God that He protects me and comforts me. So I slowly started to fortify myself in prayer, reading the Bible, and writing down my thoughts to God in the form of songs.”

A photo taken of Mehr sitting in her garden

A photo taken of Mehr sitting in her garden

Relentless Oppression

“Though a complaint was lodged against our attackers, they were not arrested or questioned and were let free because they hold an influential position in the community,” Mehr shares. “Even while recovering from the appalling incident, the attackers constantly threatened us with abusive words.” And the persecution didn’t stop there.

Mehr’s persecutors went so far as to bribe the doctors at the hospital—telling them to stop treating Mehr because she was a Christian. The bribery worked. “The nurses there did not come for my treatment and stopped all care,” Mehr says. This traumatic experience added to her anxiety and proved to Mehr that persecution could follow her anywhere. Open Doors partners heard about the incident and helped Mehr pay for her medical bills and move to another hospital—one friendly to Christians—to continue her critical treatment. “This kind of injustice should not be done to anyone, be it Christians or non-Christians,” Mehr says.

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Finding healing and hope

When we were in the hospital, we didn’t have money for treatment,” Mehr adds. “But as soon as Open Doors partners came to know about my situation, God sent them as divine helpers for us.

“Your ministry paid for my hospital bills. So, I thank Almighty God for you. But unfortunately, when the incident happened, we all lost our jobs. And you are continuing to help us and support us with groceries and all our needs,” Mehr adds.

Open Doors continues to support Mehr and her family as they recover from the trauma
of the attack. Across India today, Christians just like Mehr and her family are in urgent need of support for medical bills after attacks, food relief when they lose their jobs due to discrimination, legal help, discipleship, training—and at times even safe houses to escape extremists. And every prayer and gift helps communicate one crucial message to Indian Christians: You are not alone. “I am so grateful to my God. He certainly has comforted me through your gracious help. When everything looked dark, your presence and prayers uplifted my family and me. I can testify and claim that the plans of God are good and not for my harm, and every circumstance guides me to a future and hope in Christ,” Mehr says.

Mehr was also able to attend an Open Doors Persecution Preparedness Training. She has boldly shared her testimony in the seminar and touched many with her unshakeable faith in Christ.

“When this attack happened to me, it wasn’t easy to come out of it, but God put one thing on my heart: ‘Do not fear for I am with you.’”

Mehr has gone through a lot at a young age, but her faith is strong and she’s dedicated to being a light for Christ in India—no matter the cost.

“The plan that God has for my life is big. I will be used for God’s glory. Jesus Christ is everything to me,” Mehr shares. “Thank you so much for being an encourager in my life. Surely my cup overflows with blessings.

“On behalf of my family, God bless you all.”

 

Listen to Mehr share her story below.

To discover more incredible stories like Mehr’s, click here to download Open Doors’ free magazine, Presence.

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