Forsaking Everything in India
By Meg Midwood
05/25/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – “I [was] the talk of the town as a mad woman; things were going worse,” Podiya shared, remembering that day when she stood on the precipice of mental illness, looking down into an abyss of endless suffering.
For months, Podiya had experienced excruciating pain radiating from a tumor in her stomach. After enduring the pain for so long, the lines between reality and madness had become blurred in her mind. Living in a rural village in India, her medical options were limited and healthcare was scarce. She explored different remedies and treatments for the tumor, all of which failed, before turning to witchcraft and idol worship out of desperation. Eventually, they too disappointed her.
In the eyes of her village, Podiya had become a mad woman; as she spiraled downward, the villagers’ whispers only grew louder.
Only one person saw her as more than a lunatic in pain. A Christian woman reached out to Podiya and encouraged her to attend a prayer meeting. At the meeting, Christians prayed over Podiya’s body. She was shocked to find that the pain improved within a week!
Slowly but surely, one week after the next, time brought not only physical healing, but also mental healing. Podiya kept attending the prayer meetings each week. The experience completely changed her life. After she was healed, she gave her heart to Christ.
It was the most joyous day of her life.
Not everyone was happy with the new Podiya. Her husband, a devout Hindu, and the other Hindu villagers pressed her to abandon her new faith and turn away from Christianity. The news of her conversion spread throughout the village, and anger grew. Soon, people started to harass Podiya.
“My husband and the villagers together wanted me to forsake Christ and return to Hinduism. They even warned me that if I failed to do so, I would be thrown out of the village,” she said.
She stood firm in her faith, but the healing that she had received so freely almost cost Podiya her life. On one occasion, the villagers attacked her. She was assaulted so badly that a pastor admitted her to the hospital.
The trouble didn’t stop after her hospital discharge, nor did the authorities step in. In her own words, “My husband continued to torture me and force me to forsake Christ, but I was adamant in my decision. I was ready to forsake my husband, but not Christ who healed me and gave me new life.”
Eventually, Podiya’s husband kicked her out of the house, along with their only daughter. The meager belongings they were able to bring with them were the clothes on their back. Podiya’s husband kept their two sons. That day, her true village became the believers who had loved her from the beginning and stood by her side.
Pastor Peter and other believers gave her shelter, clothes, and food. Podiya couldn’t believe it; she was surprised to see such love and attention flowing from the pastor’s family that was very poor with no extra resources to spare. They supported and comforted Podiya, never abandoning her. They arranged a place for her to stay and even helped her daughter get admitted to a government school, where she would be able to study in a hostel.
Living in the Grace of God
Losing her sons was the hardest part of this trial for Podiya, but she explained that she was able to count it all joy for the sake of Christ. Today, Podiya shares that she prays continuously to be a blessing to her host family. She also lifts her estranged husband and sons up in her prayers, that they may also be saved. Though she doesn’t have a regular income, she works whenever she can as a day laborer and lives on the grace of God.
Podiya feels that, despite everything she has been through, the “Lord has been faithful to [her]… He has been gracious to provide [her] with His faithful children who are supporting and standing for [her].”
She shared that she has learned to lean on the Lord through any situation, saying, “I have decided to follow Jesus Christ and will go through any persecution for His [name’s] sake.”
Across India, persecution and religious intolerance continue. We will stand with our persecuted brothers and sisters. We urge you to remember in prayer all those in India facing persecution because of their choice to follow Jesus.
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