Over the last year, Sunita* (25) and her sister Meena* (32) have endured intense persecution from members of their village.
This article was first published in our Frontline Faith Magazine – The Rise of Extremism Edition. We have included a September 2016 update at the end of this article.
Their persecution started with their father Meena tells us. “He did not lock us up. But in every aspect we had to take care of ourselves. The entire village rejected us, but we were blessed by the Lord.”
Sunita and Meena became Christians over a decade ago while listening to a Christian radio program. “In 2006 we were baptised and started to visit church services. My faith had grown stronger and I thought, ‘If I die, I will be resurrected,’” Meena tells us.
The persecution got worse recently when the sisters, and two other women, were stopped by a group of Hindu men. The men, furious at them for their faith in Jesus, stole the berries they had just picked.
“Christians cannot pick berries,” they said. “You can’t draw water from the well either, nor can you make use of this road through the village.”
They ran and hid from the men, hearing them shout, “Where are they? Burn them! Burn them!”
When the men finally left 8 hours later at midnight, they made their way to another believers house to hide.
The women took refuge with a group of local believers and contacted the police. They organised a ‘peace meeting’ to take place a few days later, and the sisters went home.
This only made things worse however with a women coming to visit them first. Sunita recounted, “When the village lady came to our house, she shouted at us, ‘Why did you become Christians? We don’t want Christians here! Go to a Christian village!’ She hit me three times.”
Then more people came to their home. Meena and Sunita were dragged outside, where a group of Hindu men beat them with bamboo sticks. Sunita said, “I thought I would die. I endured the beatings in silence and prayed until I lost consciousness.”
Meena said, “They broke at least five or six [bamboo sticks] on my back. My sister tried to protect me, but she couldn’t. I just cried out to God, ‘Thank you, Lord! Jesus, please forgive them. They don’t know what they do!’”
Meena added that one of the attackers had said, “We know about Jesus. He died on a cross and so will you!”
“I just prayed that God’s will be done, no matter what. Sure, the beating was painful, but inside I felt a tremendous joy. I was worthy to suffer for Jesus!” shared Meena.
The sisters were separated during their ordeal and Sunita was dragged through the outskirts of the village. She said, “When I woke up, my wrist hurt terribly. I saw the broken bone; it stuck out. I got up and I left the village.”
She heard people following her so she hid in a shed as they searched for her. She said, “The attackers passed by. I saw and heard them. I crawled into a corner. I just prayed that my sister was still alive. I also prayed that God’s will be done. I told Him, ‘I can die or I can witness. Make me a weapon, Lord. Make me a witness for you.’”
Eventually the men left. Soon after both sisters were reunited and taken to hospital. They have since been in hiding, but are as passionate as ever.
“I thank the Lord for persecution,” says Meena. “God had warned us in advance that it would come and that He would take care of us. We were prepared. So thank you for praying and helping us. The Gospel was theory for us, but when persecution comes and you don’t backslide but witness for the Lord, you know it is for real. You help us stand strong.”
Through local partners, Open Doors was able to provide food, accommodation and pay for their medical expenses.
Update September 2016:
Meena and Sunita contacted local police in their village to seek help and protection and were willing to again make peace with the villagers. The police officers attempted to negotiate a truce. However a girl from the village made a complaint to police that Meena, Sunita and another Christian sister, Mamta*, beat her up.
Meena, Sunita and Mamta had to leave the village again after the false accusation. Open Doors’ partners have arranged a lawyer to help.
Please continue praying for Meena, Sunita and Mamta.
*Names changed for security purposes.
Read more stories like this in Frontline Faith Magazine – The Rise of Extremism Edition.