Far from escaping problems, Ojas faced continued challenges. With no financial support and limited vision, completing his studies was a battle. Worst of all, he worried about his mother, still at home facing his father’s rage.
As graduation approached, Ojas saw a vision telling him to serve Jesus in a place where nobody knew Him. He embraced this challenging call and moved to a region where people were often hostile to Christianity, though it would cost him dearly.
Ojas, though small in stature, had big dreams for suffering people to see Christ’s love. He found ways to serve people as Jesus would. He tutored children for free and encouraged young people to avoid the snares of substance addiction. Sometimes, if they couldn’t afford the expenses of further education, he would give students money to help pay for books and school fees. When people in the community fell sick, he visited them, prayed for them and took care of them. Through his prayers, Jesus healed many.
Ojas’ compassion and humility touched hearts. People became interested in Christ, and a number began following Him. Not everyone was excited, however.
One day, a rich, tall man who was feared in the community asked the young pastor to visit. When Ojas went to his home, the man chased him around the house and beat him.
Another time, a gang of young men accosted Ojas by a river and beat him mercilessly. They were carrying him toward the riverbank to bury him alive when a local official came by. They fled, leaving Ojas severely wounded.
These violent incidents didn’t frighten Ojas. He continued loving people, even praying fervently for God’s mercy on his persecutors. But the heavy blows he received near his eyes left lasting damage. He began to lose what God had previously restored. According to doctors, the head trauma he experienced gradually destroyed his eyesight. After several years, he became almost completely blind.
Pastor Ojas’ vision loss limited his ability to travel, but he learned new ways to continue ministry, like praying for people over the phone. The Lord also raised up a helper for Pastor Ojas: his daughter, Sahasra. Sahasra would lead him by the hand and help him get on and off buses or rickshaws. She also helped him by singing, reading Scripture and collecting the offering during prayer meetings and worship services.
People noticed Pastor Ojas’ commitment even in suffering.
A local church member said, “Pastor Ojas has been a source of encouragement not only for me but for everyone here in this place. He is … committed to work for unity and love. … Instead of lamenting his fate and getting pessimistic, he is continuing these things, going out for people’s love, unity and care.”
Over the years, Pastor Ojas’ lifestyle has impacted his community—and his family. His mother came to know Jesus, and his father’s heart softened over the years. After studying the Bible for himself, Pastor Ojas’ father believed in the Lord.
Now faith is burning from one generation to the next. Although Pastor Ojas didn’t follow his father’s dream for him, his father followed his example. And as Sahasra helps Pastor Ojas, she is gaining a passion to serve Christ herself.
“Whenever I see my father doing ministry, there is a burden in my heart,” she says, “and in the coming days, I will also be like my father and do ministry in many places.”
Although he’s experienced pain for loving Jesus and loving others, Pastor Ojas continues to pour out his life.
“Though I lost my eyesight, I am rejoicing in the Lord. It is a great joy for me to serve the Lord,” he says. “The same passion and the same burden is burning in my heart. And when people call me for prayer, though I have lost my eyesight … I feel that my spiritual eyes are open.”
At the GFA headquarters in Wills Point, Texas, Shareen clicks open the file of photos sent from the field in Asia. Dozens of images of a national missionary populate her computer screen. She magnifies each picture and tags them “slum,” “prayer,” “national missionary.” Shareen prays for the national missionaries shown in the photos and places them in a file, ready to be used for a GFA publication.
Balan was only around 7 years old but already thinking about suicide. He spent his days sitting alone in a corner of his parents’ home, a shawl wrapped around him to cover his body. After being diagnosed with leprosy, his mother, father, siblings and the rest of his community excommunicated him.
I had the privilege to be part of the team at GFA that teaches School of Discipleship (SD) students how to share their faith. But it seems like it was just a little while ago that I was a student in the program going through those classes for the first time.