Hansini steeled herself against the pain of another blow. Soon her body would turn all shades of black and blue, but her attacker wouldn't be satisfied. He wasn't simply angry like the others. This man was desperate. At 17 years old, Hansini had shamed the entire village by her actions, but everyone blamed him. Now he was determined to see his reputation restored—no matter the cost.
Low-Caste Villagers Abandon Religion
Hansini's village wasn't much to look at. The people were poor and most struggled for daily survival.
Still, they had some things to their credit: They were faithful to their traditional deities, and though their lifestyles wouldn't suggest it, they belonged to highly distinguished clans.
Between working as daily wage laborers and scraping together meals, the people still managed to look down on the lower castes. As if their status weren't bad enough, many in the lower castes had deserted the traditional religion and begun following Jesus, making them even more disgraceful.
Although most villagers wanted nothing to do with the low-caste people, there were a few who had given up their reputation to join the Jesus-followers. To her family's dismay, Hansini was one of them.
Village Harasses Family for Girl's New Faith
From the beginning, Hansini's parents, Badal and Deepti, strictly opposed her new faith, but their stance did little to calm the rest of the village. The teenager had brought scandal to their doors and something needed to be done.
Old friends became hostile to the family, who received no end of scolding from neighbors and extended relatives.
"You have let your children run so free that you cannot even make them obey you," the village elders told them.
It didn't matter that their son and younger daughter still behaved respectably or that Badal and Deepti worked hard every day. Their own beliefs were of no consequence because Hansini's actions had overshadowed them all.
Family Turns on Girl
One day, Badal couldn't bear the humiliation any longer. Hammered by the scorn of his neighbors, the man snapped, and he beat Hansini with all the fury and shame he felt. But even as the dark bruises began to show, Hansini stood firm with a determination no one understood.
When her brother and sister begged her to come back to their religion, she just told them more about Jesus.
The neighbors were disgusted, and the family could only wait helplessly for Hansini to relent and clear the family name. After three years passed, though, it seemed she never would.
Christmas Gift Changes Perspectives
One day, Hansini came home with a surprise from her church's Christmas gift distribution program. It didn't make sense that the poor, lowly believers could give such a nice gift, but the gleam of the new sewing machine was undeniable. Hansini didn't waste any time in putting it to use.
She began sewing and selling mosquito nets, and Badal and Deepti watched in amazement as their wayward daughter started earning a significant income. Rather than using it for her personal gain, she took care of her family's bills.
"Jesus Christ is the giver of all good gifts," Hansini explained to her parents, "and it is because of the love and grace of Christ that our family is able to overcome all our financial struggles."
As they looked at what they'd received from the daughter and the God they rejected, Badal and Deepti realized how wrong they had been. Together, they decided that if Jesus could love them while they rejected Him, then they would serve Him no matter what the neighbors said.
And as word spread of Hansini's success, the neighbors had plenty to say.
Villagers Curious About Jesus
After three years of hostility, the villagers weren't about to ignore this new development. With their objective in sight, they closed in on the girl who had defied them, and they asked her one simple question:
Would Hansini teach their children to sew, too?
The young woman happily agreed.
Today, Hansini teaches classes six days a week, borrowing a second sewing machine from a fellow believer, and she hopes to share the love of Jesus with her students.
The villagers have stopped their hostile actions and some are even coming to church, eager to learn more about the longsuffering love of Christ. After seeing it clearly demonstrated through Hansini, it's not so shameful anymore.
Published 2012 Gospel for Asia
*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.