Meena and Sunita are two sisters from Odisha, a state in eastern India. They grew up in a Hindu household and in a a community that was staunchly Hindu. The sisters came to faith through a Christian radio program.
Listening to the radio—that was our church service,” Meena says. “We were afraid of the hostile society [around us], but in 2006, we were baptized and started to visit church services.
About a year later, the villagers noticed something about the sisters was different. Their faith was discovered. The villagers held a meeting. “They told each other that Christians were not to be tolerated in the village,” the sisters remember. “They called our father and put him under pressure. He told them, ‘I will provide them with a room, but I won’t give them food or clothing.ʼ He did not lock us up, but we had to take care of ourselves. The entire village rejected us, but we were blessed by the Lord.”
The sisters continued to live in the village, struggling to make ends meet with no support from their family.
One day several years later, the sisters were out picking berries around their village. Suddenly, a group of Hindu extremists blocked their path.
“Christians cannot pluck berries,” they told Meena and Sunita. “You can’t draw water from the well either, nor can you make use of this road through the village.”
Meena, Sunita and two other Christian women fled to safety on a nearby a hill where they hid until about midnight. For almost eight hours, they could hear the extremists shout: “Where are they? Burn them! Burn them!”
Finally, after the crowd dispersed and they felt safe, the Christian women went to another village, stayed with local believers and then went to the police station the next day. Police officers contacted Meena and Sunita’s attackers, and they agreed that a few days later the women could return for a “peace meeting.”