‘I am rejected in my own house’—Rupa’s determination to follow Jesus in India

July 16, 2020 by Lindy Lowry in Africa

When Rupa* felt God calling her to follow Jesus and serve Him, her father grew extremely angry and refused to support her. But your support and prayers have enabled Rupa to follow God’s call. Open Doors local partner Jane* was recently able to meet Rupa and learn more about her story.

The day I met Rupa, there was a blue sky, and nearby there were rare bright pink bougainvillea flowers climbing the branches of the trees, providing some welcome shade from the hot afternoon sun. The young girl came towards me wearing warm clothes and fiddling with a handkerchief in her hand. We were meeting in the garden of the college where she studied; her hostel was also on the premises.

Rupa had a hoarse voice due to a cold. “It’s two days that I haven’t been out,” she says with a pleasant smile. She is glad to be out of the four walls of her room. She begins her story by telling me about her family. She is the middle child among four siblings and used to be her father’s favorite.

She looks away as she mentions her father. She goes on to say that it was through her father that the whole family accepted Christ, after he was healed of a sickness.

But Rupa says Christ was just a name until she had a personal encounter with Him at a youth camp, where she first understood who Christ is and what it is to be “in Christ.” She says that the verse in 2 Corinthians 5:17 really changed her view of herself in Christ: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

This new understanding of life and faith compelled Rupa to become involved in ministry. Prior to that, she had prepared to become a chartered accountant, but now she wanted to leave that path and serve God with the local church full time.

‘If God has called me, let Him use me’

Rupa thought her family would be happy that she had decided to serve God, especially her father. But when she shared her news, her father refused to allow her to think about working for God. He wanted her to become a chartered accountant, a highly regarded career option in India. He said she should earn money doing this, and she could serve God later, after her marriage.

But Rupa continued to pray: “If God called me at this young age, then let Him use me at this young age.” She fasted and prayed for God’s approval.

Although her father had experienced healing from Jesus, he had begun to turn his back on his new faith and stopped Rupa from even praying or reading the Bible at home. Rupa frowned as she explained, “I had to go to the washroom to pray and read the Bible. I was so sad that my father had completely backslid in his faith and had started persecuting me. He stopped speaking to me.”

Her father also stopped supporting her college education, warning her: “If you continue following Jesus and continue serving Him with the church, we will cut all ties with you.” With a heavy heart, Rupa made the decision to continue to work with her church.

“I was depressed and sad,” Rupa says. “I wanted to study further but I also didn’t want to stop following Jesus either. I was boycotted and rejected in my own house. Now I had no hopes of studying further.”

But Rupa’s local pastor supporter her spiritually and connected her with Open Doors local partners who helped her get into a good college. The college also took care of Rupa’s room and board.

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A painful return

A year later, during summer vacation, Rupa visited her home with her report card. She expected her father to be happy with good grades. She was wrong.

He still hadn’t forgiven his daughter for abandoning his dream for her of becoming a successful chartered accountant. Instead of pride, he had nothing but rebuke and abuse for Rupa—and an ultimatum. If she wanted to restore her relationship with him, he told Rupa, she should leave Jesus.

Tears well up in Rupa’s eyes as she remembers the day. Her voice breaks as she tells me that her father’s behavior led her to a decision to hang herself. A providential call from her local pastor, unaware of everything that was happening to Rupa back home, suddenly stopped her.

“He told me to stop what I was doing and prayed with me.” she says.

The situation with her father grew even worse. He seemed to have stopped caring about her. Her college was in another city, and she had no money to return. While she was there, she endured house arrest when her father tried to keep her locked in the house. We can’t go into details but with the help of the pastor and Open Doors local partners, Rupa was able to leave the house and return to her college.

Heartbroken over her father’s rejection, Rupa managed to continue her studies. She remembers when her classmates talked about their fathers, and the feeling of loss. “My father blocks my number when I call him and my mother and siblings cannot talk to me while he is around,” Rupa says, adding that at one time she questioned God: Why do I deserve this when I haven’t done anything wrong?”

‘My God will not leave or forsake me’

What keeps Rupa going? She immediately quotes Isaiah 49:15-16: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.”

The young woman points to the promise in this passage: “These verses assure me that even though people may leave me, my God will not leave or forsake me,” she explains.

Rupa says coming to the college has been the best decision of her life. “My learning has not just been confined to the classroom,” she says. “I have spent much of my time in library, with various options to read from, and I also gained more knowledge about life and my subjects. I have more freedom here and am able to grow in my spiritual life.”

Rupa is also growing in her faith through Christian friends in the college and also Open Doors partners who visit and encourage her; she has a regular personal devotion time and is strengthened in her faith more than ever.

Rupa feels burdened when she hears others saying that Christ is a foreign God. She says, “Jesus Christ is the one true God who paid the price for all human kind once for all. He is for all and all can be His. Jesus is worth getting to know.

After completing her studies, Rupa hopes to be involved in children and youth ministry. Even now, she is volunteering for ministry in her local church and sharing Christ with anyone she meets. “No matter how my father reacts, I will continue to serve God,” she says, resolutely. “I believe there will come a day where my father will rejoice over my decision as my Heavenly father rejoices.”

‘I am very much grateful’

Your support and prayers have enabled Open Doors local partners to support Rupa in her studies. Smiling, she says, “I fall short of words to thank everyone who has come forward to help me. If not for your support, I might have been fulfilling my earthly father’s desire of becoming a chartered accountant without peace. I am very much grateful for the support towards my studies and pray every day that God’s blessings be upon His people.

It’s clear that the roots run deep as she quotes Paul in his letter to the Philippian church: “I have to run the race that is set for me, even if there are obstacles. I am inspired by the life of Paul, especially what he says in Philippians 3:13-14: ‘One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’”

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