Just like the Muslims, Hindus in Lombok, Indonesia have strict rules that punish those who leave the religion for another. Believers from a Hindu background have lost their families, their inheritance, and their place in the village for following Jesus Christ. One of them is Andria*, a 26-year-old girl who finds Jesus during the hardest time of her life.
Andria was 17 years old when she suddenly lost her sight. At that time, she was just about to start her final exams in a local senior high school, in West Lombok. Her family could not bring her to the nearest hospital because they couldn’t afford it. A few years later, she finally found out that it was glaucoma that blinded her. Andria was shocked and depressed.
“I loved to write,” Andria explained. “I sent many short stories to a local magazine, and my school even sent me for a writing competition, and I won the first prize. I was so excited about writing and I dreamed to be a writer. But everything changed when I lost my sight.”
Andria could not accept her condition. She relied on others to do her daily routines. She always believed that eyes were the most important part of her body. Andria could not continue her school. She had to let go of her dream to be a writer.
“I felt that God was not fair,” Andria said. “I hated God. I was a devoted Hindu believer. My father was a Hindu priest, and I went to the temple more than anyone else. I did all the Hindu rituals. I even became a radical; I began to hate other religions. That was why I got so angry with God for making me blind. Since then, I never went to the temple anymore.”
Hope in Darkness
For four years, Andria lived in despair and did not want to do anything. She cried all the time. One morning in August 2008, she met a vegetable seller who told her that ‘someone’ loved her.
Andria was surprised with those words and she asked about this ‘someone’ that the vegetable seller mentioned. In the afternoon, the seller came with a local missionary who explained to her about the love of Jesus. That was the first time Andria felt loved. After that, the local missionary came to her house thrice a week to share from the Scriptures. Within a month, Andria decided to be baptized.
“I did not tell anyone about my conversion,” Andria recalled. “My father was a Hindu priest and my uncle was also a Hindu high priest. Only my little brother knew it, and he became a believer too, before going to another island for work. I did not tell my mom, because she had separated from my father.”
Even though Andria did not openly tell her father about her conversion, he saw that Andria was changed.
“My father would beat me when he gets stress or when he does not have money,” she said. “I used to cry out of anger, but now I have changed. Even though he still beats me sometimes, I can show my respect and love as a daughter. I think he also notices the change in me.”
Andria’s Faith Discovered
But Andria’s family found out that she made friends with Christians and read the Bible—so her family beat and threatened her as well. They would probably be angrier if they learned that Andria was already a baptized believer.
“I would still go to the temple,” said Andria. “I prayed there, but not to the spirits or ancestors. I prayed to Jesus. I did not change my religion in my identification card; that was why none of my relatives knew about my conversion. But they are already suspicious.”
After her conversion, Andria regularly met with the local missionary, read the Bible, and learned about Jesus. Andria started to be thankful, despite her condition.
“Jesus loved me no matter what. If He allowed me to be blind, He has a purpose for it. I did not pray for Him to heal me, because He must have a great plan behind it,” Andria said.
Since Andria’s father worked as a Hindu priest, he did not get a regular salary. The situation forced Andria to work to provide for her family. She went to her neighbors’ house to wash and iron their clothes, and she also sold food and phone vouchers.
Seizing an Opportunity
“At first, I was thinking of a way to share God’s Word to my neighbors,” she said. “I prayed, and God gave me an idea to wash and iron for my neighbors. With this job, I got an opportunity to come inside their houses and share Jesus’ good news with them.”
Every day, Andria listened to a Christian radio program to help her grow spiritually. The local missionary’s regular visits also helped her learn more about the Bible.
“I consider her (the local missionary) my big sister,” Andria said. “I really love her. Sometimes, when my father is in a good mood, I go to stay in her house for days, and I learn a lot about Jesus. But when I am home, I call her so she can read to me some verses from the Bible. I listen to a Christian radio station and I learn some encouraging songs. I sing while doing my daily chores.”
Andria appreciated God’s protection whenever she did her daily activities. When she moved about her house or walk around the village using her walking stick, there were times when she could only rely on God for guidance.
Sights on Jesus
“Many times, I did not know if there were stones or other obstacles in front of me, but I could hear God when I walked. Sometimes, there was a voice that directed me. I hear Him telling me to go to the right, or left, or to stop,” Andria said.
Andria was the only believer in her village, and she wanted to share Jesus with everyone. Many of her friends started to open their hearts to Jesus after they heard about Andria’s testimony. She also shared it with her father whenever she could.
In Jesus, life had taken a new meaning for Andria. She desired to bring more Hindu believers to Jesus, and most of all, she dreamed of her father coming to Christ one day.
“I love my father even though he beats me,” Andria said in tears. “I can’t leave him alone. He is old now; what if he gets sick? Who will take care of him? I will never leave him no matter how hard it is. I forgive him and I pray that one day he will know Jesus and feel the same joy and peace I feel now.”