India | May 3

From One to Many

I walked down the dusty village streets, looking for people to speak with. How I wanted to share the stories I had been told about God! Laundry flapped in the breeze, and cook fires scented the air. Goats and sheep jostled in the street with the farmers and shepherds.  “Do you know Jesus?” I asked a group of men. 

They crowded close to me, threatening. Their voices rose, and then they drove me outside of the village. Soon I was lying curled on the road and groaning, the men laughing.

The men who had beaten me disappeared, but I lay as they had left me, too weak and wounded to rise. I let out another groan. The landscape swam around me; pain gripped me. 

All of a sudden I saw sandaled feet and dust by my head. Had the men come back to kill me? There was nothing I could do.

“Can I help you? What happened to you?” His voice was kind.

I told the man above me that I had been beaten by a group of men.

“I am Nagaraj, and I will help you,” he said before gently lifting me into his cart.

Nagaraj took me to a hospital and paid for my treatment. I stayed overnight, and the next day he came back for me.  

“You can stay in my home until you are recovered,” he said. 

I was filled with gratitude as I thought of my handicapped mother. I knew that it would be best to stay with Nagaraj. My mother could not care for me, and my father had left us years before.  “Thank you,” I said. I knew my heavenly Father was caring for me through this kind man.

In Nagaraj’s home my bruises and injuries healed, and I grew stronger. As I was accepted into his family, I began to tell them about Jesus. Nagaraj listened closely to the stories I knew from the Bible and accepted Jesus into his life.

“Stay with us and bring your mother to live here, too,” he invited. My heart filled with gratitude, and I brought my mother into his home. 

When I healed, I went again into the villages I wanted to reach for Jesus. Now that I was staying with Nagaraj I was better accepted, and the stories of Jesus spread. Five people formed a church, then 10, then 20. During 10 years our numbers swelled to 200. We met in Nagaraj’s rented home in the middle of the village. Our space was tight and small for 200.

Recently I visited new villages and discovered a church I had not known about. It was a group of Seventh-day Adventists, and I decided it was my duty to bring truth to them. I prepared to attend church one Sabbath morning to worship with them and then speak about true worship. 

I entered the church and found about 100 members. I was told that they had been meeting for 40 years in this village. I sat silently in my seat throughout the service, thinking about the truth of Sunday worship I would reveal to them. 

After the service I greeted the pastor, and we spoke to each other; I was still thinking of what I would share. Before I began sharing, he started speaking to me about the Sabbath. His beliefs seemed grounded in the Bible. Very quickly I became interested in what he had to say and wanted to learn more. When he offered to study the Bible with me, I accepted. 

The Adventist pastor and I studied together weekly for about six months. As I learned new truths, I shared them with the 200 people I worshipped with. As I became convinced of new truths, those I worshipped with argued. Would God hold us together? 

I invited the Adventist pastor to speak in our church. A few months ago I was baptized with all 200 of my church members—into the Seventh-day Adventist Church!

People from the surrounding villages were curious and came to see our large baptism. More than 100 of those that came to watch indicated they were interested in learning more about God, and so the Adventist pastor and I began studying with them.

My congregation and I continue to meet in the home that Nagaraj rents, though now we meet on Sabbath rather than Sunday. We hope to build a church or two for our expanding body of believers. We are excited to see where God will take us. From one to many, it has been an amazing journey with Him, and we know He will continue to be with us.

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