By Vani Marshall Xavier
Iwas born and raised in an orthodox Hindu family. On my maternal side, I come from a lineage of Hindu chief priests. I became a committed Hindu and yet, even as a child, I always had a deep hunger for the one true God. I did not find God in the Hindu “sacred books.” I had heard of the name of Jesus, and knew the basic story of Christ, but from my vantage point of upbringing, I dismissed Him as nothing more than a good man.
I was afflicted with an illness that the doctors could not identify and therefore could not cure. In spite of my physical condition, my pursuit of God never diminished. One night while I was in terrible physical pain, I cried out, “Jesus! I am a Hindu and I worship many gods! If You are the one true God, then heal my body! Take this pain away and give me peace!”
Suddenly a very real and powerful presence entered my room. I knew without a doubt it was the manifest presence of almighty God. I heard a voice say clearly, “I am Jesus. I am God.” I fell on my face weeping. I knew the voice I heard was the voice of the One I had searched for and finally found! The debilitating pain left my body; I was completely healed! Peace like I had never known filled my heart and mind. I decided then and there to follow Jesus Christ, surrendering to Him wholly. I knew I had
been forever changed.
I soon found an Apostolic church where I was baptized in the name of Jesus and was filled with the
Holy Ghost. To say my life changed dramatically is the grandest of understatements. However, with this change came persecution. When one is rejected for doing what is right, Scripture admonishes us to accept it and even take pleasure in it: “There fore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Corinthians 12: 1 0).
I had been surrounded by a loving family. My parents had always generously provided for me. But due to my newfound allegiance to Christ, I was suddenly subjected to a great deal of hostility and rejection from my family who did not understand the significance of what I had experienced. When I refused to worship other gods, my relatives turned away from me.
John Piper wrote, “There is such a tension between the message and way of life of Christians on the one hand and the mindset and way of life of the world on the other that conflict is inevitable…. Sooner or later a God centered Christian will be mistreated deeply for the things he believes in or the life he lives.” Although this hostility hurt me, I was determined not to back down. In fact, Jesus admonishes us to
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:12).
Paul the apostle exhorts us, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer … Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. … Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:12, 14, 17-21).
The Holy Ghost gave me the strength to continue to love my family despite the rejection. I clung to the power of God’s Word and its ability to heal and strengthen in times of trouble and as I did, my heart was strangely filled with joy and a great calm. God’s promises gave me focus and a determination to persevere no matter what. I learned that if we have a made up mind to love and serve Jesus, then although we may be troubled on every side, we will not be distressed, persecuted but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed. (See II Corinthians 4:8-9.)
Not only had I found the One my soul longed for, He directed my steps. When one faces trials, there is a temptation to give up or back down. The Bible exhorts us to “not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).
I kept reaching out to my family. Soon, my father and siblings were baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost. The Lord fulfilled His promise to me for the salvation of my household! Surely those that are persecuted for His name sake are blessed indeed.