His grandfather sold curses, he plants churches in India: Raman’s story

August 21, 2019 by Christopher Summers in Count it All Joy

It took a terrible accident before Raman became a believer in Jesus.

 

It took healing from sickness and demonic thoughts.

 

It took rejecting the faith of his family and his village.

 

In short? It took a God who never stopped chasing Raman.

 

Raman* is a Christian in India, and every day he believes in Jesus, he risks everything for the savior who rescued him.

 

But before that? He had to deal with sickness, injury and a family that specialized in curses and magic.

‘Why do I have to suffer like this?’

Raman grew up in a family where he saw first-hand the darker side of one branch of Hinduism. “My grandfather was a priest,” says Raman, who is now 29. “He would sacrifice animals and invite the gods. When people wanted to curse someone, they gave money to him and he would [place a] curse. When I was young, people would come to me and say, ‘We suffer because of your grandfather.’”

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When he was only eight years old, his father and grandparents all died within three months. When Raman’s mother refused to remarry, their relatives seized all of their property and possessions, and forced Raman, his mother and sister to leave town. The family tried to begin a new life in a new place, but it wasn’t easy. “My mother had earned her living with black magic, but when we started our new life, she had no way to get income,” Raman remembers. “We lived in a shack beside the road. It wasn’t even a real house.”

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After a year, they were able to move into a house. But at the same time, Raman became sick. His sickness made him weak, and he would frequently collapse. “At that time, I was determined that there was no God, because I was asking, ‘Why do I have to suffer like this?’” he says.

Raman also began to hear voices whispering dark thoughts and urging him to carry out terrible acts—to attack other people, and even to kill himself. He became a danger to himself and to others, so the other people in his village told Raman’s mother to chain him up to prevent him from hurting someone.

He was chained for months—no one knew what to do to help him.

Then, someone told his mother, “You should take your son to church.” The Christians at the church prayed for Raman, and after a month, he was completely healed, and he stopped hearing voices. His mother and sister came to faith after this miracle—but even after experiencing this healing, Raman still wasn’t interested in God. “Because I loved my mother, I went with them to church, but I didn’t believe,” he says now.

‘I realized that Jesus healed me’

It took seven more years before Raman became a believer—and it didn’t happen without significant suffering. He was riding a motorcycle, and he hit a large truck. Raman was severely injured, to the point he nearly died from the accident; the people from the church where his mother and sister attended started praying for Raman.

For 20 days, there was no visible improvement. The doctors told his mother to take her son home and keep him in a room where he could be cared for—they said he would never be able to walk, talk or do anything outside of a bed. Raman’s mother’s family told her this had happened because she had left her Hindu faith.

But on day 21, Raman woke up, sat up in bed—and got out and walked. “God has given you life,” the pastor told him. But that still wasn’t enough for Raman.

“I didn’t believe that,” he says. “I was looking awful, I had scars on my face and I had to walk with crutches. I didn’t feel happy at all. When people came by to visit me, I started to argue with them about whether God had done this.

“I told my mom, ‘If God really healed me, then I want to walk without those crutches.’ My mom prayed for me and she told me, ‘You have to start walking.’ I did. Within a week, all the strength came back into my legs. That was the moment I realized that Jesus healed me.”

Now, in place of those evil voices that once plagued him, Raman hears the voice of the Holy Spirit. “This is such a different voice,” he says. “It gives me peace.”

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Church planting leads to persecution

Since the day he started to follow Jesus, Raman has faced opposition because of his faith. When he first became a Christian, he lost many friends, who accused him of accepting a foreign God. “I felt upset by their response,” Raman says. “I was also disappointed and alone.”

But that didn’t stop him from following the calling he felt God had given him. “I believe that God asked me to plant churches in Hindu villages around my own town,” he says. Raman became Pastor Raman.

He got married and moved to a new village with his wife, to start building relationships and conducting church services. After a year, they began to rent a building where his church could meet together. “God started to touch the hearts of the people,” Raman says.

However, others in the town became jealous because of the growth of the church. They started to disturb the services by throwing stones on the roof to make noise. This continued for several years, but Raman never stopped believing and conducting church services.

Several years later, the persecution became more violent. Raman and his wife were expecting their first baby, when they were knocked off their bike by a member of an extremist group. “My wife lost our baby,” Raman says. “I wasn’t able to do anything. I brought her to the hospital but there was nothing they could do.”

This was a terrible time for Raman and his wife. Somehow, they managed to carry on with their ministry. After two more years, God blessed the family with a baby girl.

‘Thanks to you, we could go on’

Raman’s ministry has continued to grow. He’s helped plant churches in surrounding villages. “Right now, there are 30 places in which there are Sunday schools,” he says. “And in three villages there are church services.”

But the persecution he faces has also continued. In March 2018, Raman came close to losing his life when his church was attacked by a group of young people, bribed by Hindu extremists.

“One night I was praying in the church,” he remembers. “I was all by myself and locked the door. It was midnight when I noticed smoke getting in the church. By the time I opened the door, the front side of the church was already on fire. My bike, which I use to travel to surrounding villages, was burned too. I tried to escape from the church, but when I did, some burning wood fell on me.

“It’s really God who protected me that day. I had physical issues after the incident. And even more, my bike was gone, the church almost burned down and there was no one to help us.”

Open Doors’ local partners were able to buy some basic necessities and groceries for the pastor and his family. “Thanks to you and the practical help you gave, we could go on,” Raman says.

A couple of weeks after the fire, the church was rebuilt, and over 500 children came to the building for a Vacation Bible School. “All the glory to God,” Pastor Raman says. With the help of Open Doors’ supporters, the church was able to buy new sound system to replace the one that was lost in the fire, so that work like this can continue.

Pastor Raman has now recovered from his injuries, and is determined to continue taking the gospel to his nation. He asks for prayers for the children’s ministry of the church, and for guidance as he seeks to plant churches in 100 villages around his town. “I want to see India as a country free of all evil,” he says. “When India starts fearing God, people will leave their wrong ways. I know it can be dangerous. I also know that I might die. But I am not afraid.”

*name changed for security reasons

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