Not many see the death of a buffalo as a good thing, but for Pastor Barsaat it was an unlikely opportunity to share Christ's love.
The water buffalo's owner, Ranveer, vehemently opposed Pastor Barsaat's ministry in his village. He wanted nothing to do with the love of Christ that Barsaat tried to share and did everything to stand against the pastor's ministry.
Barsaat understood. In fact, he had been in Ranveer's shoes just a few years before.
A Religious Extremist
Growing up in a devoutly religious family, Barsaat knew the ropes of religion. Every morning he visited the temple that stood next to his home and performed rituals to his gods before going to breakfast. His devotion continued with visits to several other temples and prayers offered to the numerous images he kept in his room.
With all of his spirituality, Barsaat looked down upon the foolish people who followed this so-called God, the foreigners' Jesus. He was part of an anti-Christian group and actively opposed all Christians.
One Sunday, Barsaat blocked the path of believers as they headed to worship, and as he stood calling out verbal assaults, he began throwing rocks at them.
When Barsaat learned that his very own cousin now followed this God, an enraged, Barsaat found the cousin at home and beat him.
Barsaat's hatred blinded him from seeing the joy and peace that filled the believers' lives. Instead, he filled his life with the responsibilities of being a husband and a father of two children, trying to ignore the darkness within.
He never expected what lay ahead of him.
All of Barsaat's piety did nothing but fill him with hate.
Once Pious, Now Crazy
Barsaat didn't understand what was going on with his body. His ankle would start to bleed when he walked, but there was no wound or pain. Adding to his confusion, the bleeding would stop just as mysteriously as it had begun.
Barsaat visited witch doctors and hospitals, hoping to discover a cause, but found none. As he tried to understand the problem, Barsaat turned to his favorite habits—cigarettes, drugs and alcohol. When the answers failed to come, he just increased his usage.
As the toxins took over Barsaat's body, they started to affect him in sinister ways. Barsaat would beat and stone people for no reason, biting and spitting on them. His family tried to control him, but Barsaat would run out of the house when neighbors passed, waving iron rods or farming tools at them. In the process, he injured many.
"When people saw me, they would run to save their lives," Barsaat recounts.
The family's desperate prayers to the gods went unanswered as Barsaat continued to get worse. And for an entire year, they lived in misery.
In the midst of the turmoil in Barsaat's home, though, they received a visitor. Pastor Mitul stopped in to see the troubled family and share the love of Jesus with them. As Barsaat listened to the pastor talk about Jesus' power to heal, his resistance to this God slowly began to melt, and he realized there was no other way for him to be healed.
Forsaking all he had believed since childhood, Barsaat embraced Jesus. And as Barsaat prayed with Mitul, God chose to demonstrate His power.
A Change in Direction
Immediately as they prayed, God healed Barsaat's mind and body. When his family saw the miracle, they decided to follow Jesus, too. All of them—including Barsaat's parents and five siblings—began to share with others what Jesus had done in their lives.
As Barsaat sought the Lord through His Word, he realized God wanted him to do something special with his faith. Once a persecutor of believers, Barsaat now dedicated his life to share the Gospel with the lost as a missionary. But the call was costly.
Counting the Cost
After three years of training at a Gospel for Asia Bible college, Barsaat and his family stepped out into their mission field. The new village was not open to hearing the Gospel, and the people refused to believe Barsaat's testimony of deliverance from insanity. One man in particular, Ranveer, staunchly opposed Barsaat's ministry and encouraged others to do the same.
But all this didn't cause Barsaat to lose heart. He had seen firsthand the power of God, and as he earnestly sought the Lord, he asked God to transform Ranveer's heart.
Soon after, Ranveer's buffalo died for no explainable reason. Ranveer's wife also started getting sick, and their lives were thrown into upheaval. Barsaat heard about their struggles and knew God was giving him an opportunity to show love in spite of all the persecution he had received. Barsaat visited Ranveer's home to pray for his family. Just as God had shown His power to Barsaat's family a few years before, the Lord healed Ranveer's wife and delivered the family from their turmoil and struggles. Seeing the error of their ways and the mighty love of God, Ranveer and his family chose to follow Him.
The news of the healing spread quickly throughout the village, and people brought those who were demon-possessed to Barsaat for prayer. As God brought liberation, many more chose to follow Him. He worked powerfully in the village, and Barsaat started a church fellowship where more than 100 people now gather to worship the Lord.
Now Ranveer and his family have committed their lives to Jesus.
*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.