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The Future of Christianity in India Belongs to Believers Like Bahia

June 20, 2018 by Robert Kenna in

Bahia* is a 22-year-old Bible school student from India. She is young, brave and committed to following Jesus. She is the future of Christianity in India—a country increasingly intolerant of Christians. She’s one of many who are strengthened because of your prayers and support. This is her story.

The bridge

Women washing cloths in the river.

Bahia ran across the bridge while the villagers were chasing her. She doesn’t remember what happened, exactly, but she fell off and lost consciousness. The villagers took her from the stream below, woke her up, then they beat her.

Bahia had been a Christian for almost seven years, but this was the first time she was attacked because of her faith in Jesus. There were four Christian families in her village—once there was five but one family was put under so much pressure that they reverted to Hinduism. Only a 16-year-old boy from that fifth family stayed true to Jesus. He is now a secret believer. Bahia, a cell group leader, sometimes prayed with him.

After Bahaia came to faith, her brother became so sick that the doctors couldn’t help anymore. Bahia’s mother asked her to pray, and God healed her brother. Bahia’s mother came to faith as well, but Bahia’s father and brother haven’t yet.

Bahia and her mother were scolded and harassed for leaving Hinduism. That was hard, but it was light compared to what happened a few months ago. A lady in the village passed away, and for some reason, the Christians were blamed for it. Bahia and the others were thrown out of the village and fled to the woods.

Rainy season

Bahai held onto her Bible as long as she could.

That night, they were able to go to another town where they slept in a church. The next day, they returned to their village. “We were verbally abused, and the leaders of our village held a lot of meetings about us. But we didn’t see the violence coming. It was one week after we had returned to the village. It happened so suddenly.”

Bahia held onto her Bible when some of the villagers dragged her out of her house. Women and men beat her with their hands. They hit her wherever they could.

She shouted: “Why are you beating me?”

“You are a Christian! You have to go. This is not your home,” her attackers replied.

“I live here. This is my home,” she shouted back at them.

“Leave this place,” the villagers told her once more.

She was unable to protect herself from the blows and started to bleed. One person held her left arm, another the right. She squeezed the Bible tight under one arm and protected it as long as she could.

Finally, someone yanked it from her, saying: “We are going to burn this book.”

They dragged her away. While they pulled her through the village, a picture surfaced in her mind: an image of Jesus being pushed and kicked towards Calvary.

‘Live in peace together’

Bahia lost consciousness and woke up in the forest. Her mother, who had also been beaten, and had a wound just below her eye, had brought her to safety. The other 19 Christians from the village were there too. One of them phoned the police. The officers only arrived late at night, and they brought the other villagers with them. “The police simply told everyone we should live together in peace. Then they left. We returned to the village again,” Bahia said.

But a few days later the villagers became aggressive again. They called the Christians to another meeting. “We refused to give up our faith, which made them very angry,” Bahia said, “They became aggressive because we were so persistent in following Jesus. They told us to leave the village, saying: ‘Christians belong to foreign countries.’”

This time the Christians left their village.

Return with the gospel

And Bahia didn’t return. She went to a Bible school instead. “Why? Because when they threw us out of the village, they threatened to rape or kill me if I returned. The situation in the village still hasn’t been resolved. I want to spend more time learning about God so that one day I can return with the gospel. That’s the promise I made to my mother. It’s my deep desire to share God’s word. I want to tell everyone that Jesus didn’t just die for foreigners. He died for everyone. That’s my message to the people in my village, to the people in India and people outside of our country,” Bahia said.

Bahia’s message to you

Bahai embraces a volunteer partner with Open Doors.

Local church partners of Open Doors found Bahia when she was in desperate need. The partners provided her basic needs. “That support was so meaningful,” Bahia said. “I had no money and no clothes. Then you came along.”

We ask her if she has a message to the people who make our ministry in India possible. We expected a ‘thank you,’ but she said something completely different. “Don’t be afraid when persecution comes to you. It’s part of Christian life. It’s a privilege to be persecuted. Don’t become sad or discouraged.”

We ask her what we can pray for her. “Please pray that God will help me live up to my vision: to share His word with unbelievers. Especially in my village, but also other places where God’s Word is opposed. I also have a deep desire that my father and brother come to faith.”

Bahia, a 22-year-old Bible student from India who has bled for Jesus, is the future of the Indian church.

Thanks to your prayers and support we can mobilize thousands of Christians across India to help those who are most vulnerable to persecution. We help them by providing Bibles, Christian materials, training in persecution preparedness, leadership training, emergency aid, legal support, and vocational education.

* Pseudonym and representative image used for security reasons

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