Persecution has been part of Kaliya’s life story ever since he decided to follow Christ. This tribal believer in India has never known a day since his conversion without being threatened. Even after the suspicious death of his daughters, and through all the pain, he declares, “God never left us!”
Kaliya shares his testimony:
I was born and brought up in a small farmer’s household in Jhaida, a small village in district Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh. Our tribal family was poor. Land was scarce and was further divided among the members of our family. Still, I was happily married and had four kids. Life was going well but I had no joy or peace in my life. This changed when I learned about Jesus in the year 2000 and resolved to follow Him. I became a part of a small village house church near my home.
As soon as I became a Christian I was targeted by the Hindu extremists who wanted me to leave my new-found faith. In many incidents, I was beaten up by men who ‘counseled’ me to renounce Christianity. Threats and social isolation became everyday occurrences. We were isolated from the village community, and many members of my own family disowned me.
Going to the police was not an option; after all, who would listen to me, an illiterate farmer from a low caste? Although my family and I were in constant fear of our lives, we were still happy in the Lord. Joy and happiness came whenever we listened to the words of Jesus. Though I was illiterate, I soon managed to start reading my Bible. Praise and worship sustained us as a family in our faith.
But in December 2007 we were severely tested and received the biggest trial that we ever had to face as a family. My wife and I were working in the fields with two of our children when Hindu extremists attacked our house. They planned to burn us alive by setting our house on fire. They also burnt our crops stored in and near the house.
Unfortunately my daughters Pramila, 7 years, and Nithal, 5 years, were all alone at home at the time. When they saw the mob attacking the house and the house set afire, they fled from the scene – or so we thought.
Much later, when we returned from the fields, we were stunned to see the house completely burnt down. I looked frantically for my missing children the whole evening. No one had seen them, and their bodies were not in the ashes. We finally found them the next day, their dead bodies floating in the nearby well. No one knows how they drowned there. Did they fall into the well themselves and die, or did someone push them into it? I was devastated.
For months I was in a state of shock, with no desire to live. Still I had to go through the daily motions of living, for my wife and our two other children. People told me to leave Christ. They questioned me, asking, “What has Christ given you?” Yet somehow the resolve to follow Him was stronger than ever. I knew only one thing; even though I had no comfort, even though I had questions, I must cling to Him.
A pastor near my village heard about my condition and came to visit me. Soon he contacted people in Open Doors, and they sent relief immediately. A brother from Open Doors also came and visited us. He prayed for us and tried to encourage us. He told me about a seminar called the ‘Standing Strong through the Storm’ and invited me to attend. I did not really want to attend, but a nearby pastor insisted that I come along with him.
The seminar opened my eyes to the sufferings faced by Christians worldwide. It did not reduce my hurt, but I learned I did not have to suffer alone. I am grateful to God for giving me the determination to never leave Him. I am thankful that He never left us. I also thank Open Doors for demonstrating God’s love for my family and me.
Father God, as we read about the suffering of our brother, Kaliya, and his family, we long for the day when You will gather Your people to Yourself and wipe away every tear. Thank You for bringing believers alongside Kaliya to comfort and sustain him through this devastating attack and the loss of his daughters. We ask that You would pour out Your Spirit on this stricken family as they continue to deal with grief and to trust You through this time. Protect Kaliya’s family and cover them from future attack under the shadow of Your wing. Cause their continued love and faith to be a powerful testimony to the very mob that attacked their home and family. Though we cannot see all of Your purposes, we trust that You are working all things together for good to this family and that they will one day be able to say with Joseph that what the mob meant for evil, God intended for good and for the salvation of their entire community. Amen.
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