Baisakhi lay on the bed, crying in humiliation as the women approached her. Her gods had forsaken her, her father was massively in debt, and Baisakhi couldn't even stand to greet the women who had every right to mock her pathetic situation. After all her boasts in the past, what would they say to her now?
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Although she came from a simple village of 40 families, Baisakhi grew up convinced that her gods could give her health, wealth and happiness. She began faithfully worshiping them at a young age, never waiting for an adult to guide her devotion.
Like most of her neighbors, Baisakhi's devotion earned her little. Her father, Udyan, was a daily wage laborer who was paid just enough to support his three daughters, but Baisakhi faithfully performed all her religion's rituals in hopes that her gods would eventually provide a better life. Then one day, two women came to the village hoping to rent a room.
Ladli and Yaalini were Gospel for Asia missionaries, and though Udyan didn't think much of their religion, he had a house in need of tenants. Thankful for the extra income, he decided to tolerate their activities.
It wasn't as if he needed to worry about his own family, anyway. When 14-year-old Baisakhi met Ladli and Yaalini, she had no problem telling them that each community has its own beliefs and this village had no need for theirs.
Baisakhi had faithfully followed her gods all her life. Even at 14 years old, she had no problem firmly defending them to the new missionaries in town.
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Despite Baisakhi's rejection of their faith, Ladli and Yaalini made an effort to befriend the young woman, and eventually, the three became as close as sisters. They talked about family, friends and local events, and they continued to discuss religions.
Baisakhi maintained that her gods could give her happiness—that they were just as good as Jesus Christ—but sometimes she let her friends share from the Bible, too. As long as her support of her own gods was clear, Baisakhi was up to discuss almost anything. There was only one topic she kept to herself.
Baisakhi didn't say a word to Ladli and Yaalini when her health took a downward turn. Her strength drained from her body, hindering her ability to walk. Her father took her to the local witch and wizard, but she only grew weaker. After a month of failed treatment, she went to the hospital as a last resort.
Although the illness was similar to polio, the doctors couldn't determine the cause, and gradually, Baisakhi lost the ability to walk properly. After all the times she had defended her gods to Ladli and Yaalini, she was disappointed to see her gods refusing to defend her from this plight.
She grieved to see her father struggling to support the family and taking out loans to handle the medical bills. Still, Baisakhi's gods remained silent as she poured out her sorrows. When Ladli and Yaalini came to visit her in the hospital, they were possibly the last people she wanted to see.
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Ladli and Yaalini decided to visit as soon as they heard about Baisakhi's illness, but instead of being cheered by their appearance, Baisakhi began to weep as soon as she saw them.
Lying in a hospital bed, suffering from a mystery ailment, forsaken by her gods and a burden to her family—what would her old friends say now to the young woman who had so fervently insisted she had the way to happiness?
The missionaries weren't interested in causing shame, though. Instead of mocking Baisakhi and her gods, they offered the young woman comfort and encouraged her to not lose hope.
“There is nothing that the living God cannot do,” they told her, “and even at this hour, if you believe and put your faith in the Lord, then you can receive healing.”
Ladli and Yaalini shared from the Bible and earnestly prayed for her healing. Then they asked Baisakhi to do the impossible: get up and walk.
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The request was preposterous, but Baisakhi decided to try. To her amazement and her father's astonishment, she was able to do exactly what the missionaries asked—without any difficulty.
After weeks of crying out to her gods, this God had healed her in an instant, and almost as quickly, Baisakhi gave Him her whole heart.
Baisakhi began reading the Bible daily and praying to the Lord constantly. Ladli and Yaalini continued to encourage her, holding Bible studies and prayer meetings together.
Originally published: January 2014
*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.