Criticized and ostracized
Becoming one of a hated minority of faith didn’t make for an easy life. Vipur’s wife left him and took their two young daughters with her. His family shunned him.
When a Hindu converts to Christianity, family members criticize and often ostracize their loved one. Christian converts face societal pressure not only from family, friends, community members and local Hindu priests, but also from radical Hindus.
“Everybody I knew and had good relationships with stopped talking to me,” Vipur says. “I told Jesus, First, You saved me, but now everyone [has] stopped talking to me. I have no friends and family left. Why did You even save me?
He spent days weeping—not unlike the Psalmist David who repeatedly shook his fist at God in confusion and in the same breath praised his Creator.
In his 88th Psalm, David cries out: “You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them … I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you” (Psalm 88:8-9, NIV).
Vipur also voiced his frustration at his newfound Savior yet still cried out for comfort, reading Scripture and praying. He admits he was angry at his wife for leaving, but also prayed for her return.
His prayer was answered when one day, unexpectedly, she and the children came home.
“My wife said, ‘Whatever your religion is, I will follow you.’ Eventually, she grew genuinely interested in Christianity, and after about six months she wanted to be baptized too, despite the wishes of our families.”
The social isolation continued when his wife’s family disowned her for her decision to leave Hinduism and trust Jesus.
When his brothers became sick, Vipur was able to do what his friend had done for him when he was ill. He prayed for them; eventually, they came to know Christ.
“They were healed and became followers of Jesus too,” Vipur says gratefully.
‘I will have to forgive’
Nearly a decade ago, Vipur led his first house church in his village followed by more congregations surrounding areas. His church even has a building. Still, practicing his Christian faith is anything but easy in India’s second-largest state.
He and his congregations regularly face persecution from Hindu extremists. Four years ago, Vipur was beaten the first time.
“The Hindus kept threatening me, and they also kept saying to each other that I forced people to convert,” Vipur says.
The initial beating was not as bad as the injuries he recently suffered in the machete attack. As his body slowly heals, Vipur’s spirit is mending too.
After the severe slashing, he spent three months in bed, trying to recover.
“Now, I can walk and move, but I’m still very weak,” he says. “I always need someone to go with me. I’ve lost sensation in my face and am deaf in one ear. My eyes are dehydrated and are ultra-sensitive to light, which is why I have to wear very dark sunglasses.” He also has breathing problems.
Vipur admits he struggles spiritually, knowing he lives in a village where people want him to die. He identified his attacker to the police, and the man was arrested, then released. He believes influential locals are protecting his assailant. Sometimes, Vipur sees him in the market square.
“People tell me that if he drew my blood, I should draw his,” Vipur says. “But God is our judge. I will have to forgive. It’s really difficult. My wife wants revenge too.
“Whenever I see him, it’s like there’s an explosion in my chest. That’s how angry I am. But I know I need to listen to what the Lord says and forgive.
“It’s not easy to forgive the man who almost killed you.”
‘My passion for the Lord has increased’
Vipur says until God directs him to leave, he will stay in his village and continue in ministry.
“I feel physically weak, but He makes me strong. My passion for the Lord and seeing others meet Him has increased. I firmly believe what the Apostle Peter writes in his first letter: it’s good to suffer for the Lord.”
Still, Vipur begs for the prayers of other Christians.
“Please pray for me,” he says. “Pray that I will recover fully; that’s my deepest wish. I want to be able to do what I did before the attack and even more.”
* Name changed for security reasons.