Sonia, Asha and Preeti are three Christian women in India who have benefited from a weaving centre established in their community by local Open Doors partners. Thanks to your prayers and support, these women have been able to stand strong against persecution and the devastating impact of Covid-19. All names in this article have been changed for security reasons.
Sonia and Asha have a lot in common. They are from the same village and were the first in each of their families to come to know Jesus. They also faced intense and violent persecution for their newfound faith. But, in persevering, both their families have since gradually come to know the Lord.
Sonia used to suffer from a physical illness, but found healing through prayer. But when she accepted Jesus as her Saviour, her husband did not welcome the decision and tortured and abused her. Sonia continued to hold on to God; she prayed for husband and other family members. By God’s grace, eventually Sonia’s husband had a change of heart and accepted Christ.
But soon enough, the nearby villagers rose in opposition against Sonia and her whole family. They opposed Sonia’s family for following Christ and for not partaking in any community celebration or rituals offered to idols.
The villagers told Sonia, “Christians belong to other tribes. Christians are of low tribe. We do not follow Jesus Christ!”
“My constant prayers and reading of the Bible encouraged and helped my family know the true, living God”Asha
Sonia shared, “We were labelled as unclean. No one visited us, nor were we invited to anyone's house. We were discriminated and pushed away.”
Asha experienced something similar when she became a Christian. She was married to a Hindu man, but when she became a believer, she was unable to comply with the customs and rituals of the family and the village, so she was beaten and tortured by her husband.
Heartbroken and distressed, Asha cried to the Lord to save her and her family.
She says, “When I turned and called on God as I was forced to follow the rituals of the village, He answered my prayers and in a miraculous way delivered me and my family from following the blind customs and rituals offered to the idols. My constant prayers and reading of the Bible encouraged and helped my family know the true, living God.”
The change of faith in Asha’s family hindered the villagers as the family now also refused to partake in the village festivals and celebration. They were treated in the same manner as Sonia and her family. Three other families faced the same discrimination, rejection and abuse from villagers.
Both Sonia and Asha’s main source of income was farming, but it became insufficient to meet their needs. With the pandemic sweeping the country and lockdowns being implemented, it was becoming almost impossible to afford food. Stuck at home, the families were unable to work in the fields; many of the crops were destroyed.
But they didn’t give up hope. Sonia and Asha got together to set up a weaving business, as every household in the community was well skilled and knowledgeable in weaving, and it would help to alleviate their economic situation. But after setting up the group, they encountered some problems: they did not have enough resources and materials to cope with the demands of the business.
This is where you stepped in. Thanks to your support, Open Doors local partners were able to equip Sonia and Asha in setting up a weaving centre. The income from the project means the women can provide for their families.
When the women heard that they would be receiving help and materials to establish their business, they were overwhelmed with the news, saying, “We could never afford to buy such a huge bulk of materials. No one has ever helped us with such kind gesture.” They were amazed and overjoyed with the unexpected quantity. They can now see hope for future. The project also helped them to come together with others, praying and sharing their burdens.
Asha testifies, “During our struggle I saw God as my prayer-answering God. I remember John 14:14! It says, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” This is a promise of God which really encouraged me and gave me hope. It also strengthened my faith and I never felt that God is far away from me.”
Preeti is another of the beneficiaries of the weaving centre. Unable to read, she has struggled to find sufficient work. She says, “In our family, there is no one who is educated, so in everything we are lagging behind. Financially, we are very poor. We survive hand-to-mouth. In every way, we struggle. Nevertheless, we love the Lord and are committed to Him faithfully. God has seen our struggles and through this organisation, He has provided us with a weaving project. We as a group are so happy to receive your generous help. Therefore, I would like to say thank you very much for your help and support. May God continue to bless all your work.”
“We as a group are so happy to receive your generous help. Therefore, I would like to say thank you very much for your help and support”Preeti
Sonia adds her own thanks: “This project is going to ensure we can support our families. I would like to thank the supporters from the bottom of my heart for extending your great help. May the Lord bless all the team and your ministry.”
Amazingly, so far, the centre has not faced any threat or opposition from the villagers. It has helped the women to grow, not just economically, but also spiritually as they have daily devotions and pray together.
Please continue to pray for Sonia, Asha, Preeti and their families, along with all our sisters in the weaving centre, as they continue to face the impact of the worsening pandemic in India.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.