‘Without your help, I would’ve died’—Attacked, left for dead in India

July 30, 2021 by Christopher Summers in Asia

When Preetha* woke up, the first thing she felt was pain—all over her body, in her leg, in her head, in her hand. Slowly, her eyes adjusted. A bright light buzzed above her. She could smell disinfectant. She was in a hospital.

The pain throbbed through her body, but the worst pain was coming from her hand. She looked down at it; it barely looked like a hand. There were deep cuts in four of her fingers and her palm, and blood was everywhere. Her eyes welled up with tears.

She could see her daughter, Mirai*, in the bed next to her, with her own deep cuts and dark bruises. What happened? she thought, trying to make sense of the situation. And then it started coming back to her. The drunk men. The iron rod. Her son sat with her, and he was also crying.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he told Preetha. “The doctors are saying they won’t treat you because we’re Christians. Where can we go now?”

Tears streamed down Preetha’s face. I’m going to die, she thought.

Watch Preetha’s story below.

A God who heals

Preetha looked over at Mirai from her hospital bed. Despite her wounds, Mirai’s skin was still so beautiful. Preetha would never forget the day she went with Mirai to ask the pastor to pray for her. Back then, Preetha’s husband, Navin, confronted and beat Christians. And yet, Mirai’s skin disease had left them both at their wits’ end. They tried everything the Hindu priest suggested—fasting and praying to the Hindu gods, taking part in all kinds of rituals and ceremonies. Nothing helped; Mirai never seemed to get better. But Christians said Jesus could heal people. Surely it was worth a try?

“If this God will heal her, I will serve Him for the rest of my life,” Preetha said. She wondered if the pastor would ask for money, or some other favor, but he didn’t. He just prayed to Jesus and asked Him to heal Mirai’s skin. And He did! Preetha cried tears of joy that day. When Navin came home and saw Mirai that night, he couldn’t believe it—her skin was perfect. And so, their family began to follow Jesus. Navin stopped drinking, gave up his old work making Hindu idols—and, eventually, he felt God calling him to be a pastor.

There were people who didn’t like their new faith. One of them was Preetha’s father. He was pleased to see Mirai had been healed of course. But he had raised Preetha as a good Hindu— he felt like his daughter was rejecting him and everything he had taught her by rejecting their traditional faith. But Preetha prayed for her father: “God, you have chosen us. So now, save our relatives through us too.” Slowly, her father’s heart softened. He would ask Preetha to pray for him when he was sick. Before he died, he had decided to follow Jesus.

But not everyone was won over. People threatened them, telling them to stop gathering their church, and to stop their ministry. These people said Christianity was a foreign religion, that they were “anti-Indian” for following Jesus. And finally, these threats turned to violent action.

‘Where are the Christians?’

Preetha and Mirai had gone with Navin to pray with a lady from their church, Vinita. Vinita’s husband was at work, but she had her baby girl there, and her sister was there too. After they spent some time in prayer together, they heard a commotion outside. As it got louder, they could hear people shouting: “Where are the Christians?” they shouted. Then, suddenly, a group of men barged through the door—within seconds, they filled the small house. They stank of alcohol.

It all seemed to happen so fast. The leader of the group grabbed Navin by the shirt. “We don’t want Christians here!” he yelled. The other men started smashing everything in sight. Preetha watched in horror as one of them grabbed Vinita’s baby and threw her on the ground. The baby screamed. Preetha rushed forward to pick her up, but one of the men caught her by the arm. He was holding a metal rod, and he lifted it up high above her head. Preetha held up her hand to try and stop the blow—and then everything went dark.

In the hospital, Vinita came and sat next to Preetha’s bed. Her baby was on her lap; thank God, the little girl had somehow survived the ordeal without any serious injuries. Vinita didn’t seem to have been as lucky; there was blood on her head and on her hands, but she wasn’t as severely wounded as Preetha. Vinita’s eyes were closed—she was praying.

Preetha heard her whisper: “Father, You alone show your power. Heal us.” Preetha had seen God heal—He had healed Mirai’s skin right before her eyes. But would He choose to heal her this way? Or was she going to die? In fact, God had another plan. Navin was by her bed now.

“Preetha, I’ve been speaking to Pastor Jeet*,” he said. “He says his team will help us—they’re going to take us to another hospital where you can be treated. “You’re going to be OK.”

Stand with your church family in India

In the world's largest democracy, Christians and religious minorities are discriminated against and attacked—for their faith. For the second year in a row, the country is in the top 10 on the World Watch List. When you give, you let Indian Christians like Preetha and so many others know they're not alone ... that the worldwide Church hears their story and is there to support them.

Help now!

‘I want to say thank you’

Pastor Jeet is an Open Doors local partner and was able to take Preetha to a different hospital and pay for her treatment. Preetha says, “Had Open Doors partners not helped us, I would have died.”

Your support has also enabled Open Doors to provide Preetha and her family with legal support. They have filed a case against their attackers. She asks us to pray for them: “Pray for the persecutors who oppose God, that they may know the love of God.” Despite the trauma Preetha has experienced, she says she is comforted by God’s Word. She quotes Isaiah 49:15: “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!”

“This word strengthens me,” she says. “God is always with me.”

Your prayers and support are enabling Open Doors local partners to provide vital practical and spiritual support for persecuted believers like Preetha and Navin, not only helping them to survive but also showing them they are not forgotten by their global Church family, or by God.

Preetha says: “I want to say thank you, not just to God but also to His people who have helped us. I am thankful for what God’s people have done for me. They helped, thinking of me as their own.”

Preetha’s story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Presence magazine. To read the full issue and subscribe, visit the Open Doors website. 

Pray with Preetha and your family in India

The attack on Preetha left her near death. But it also reminded her she is not alone.

  • Pray for Preetha’s continued healing. Her hand has been permanently damaged and still causes her pain.
  • Pray God will change the hearts of the extremists who carried out this attack and draw them to Himself.
  • Pray for protection for our church family in India against attacks like this.
  • Pray for Open Doors/ local partners in India, for wisdom and energy. Pray they will be able to reach those most in need of support

 

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