Mr. Ganesh, a local Sarna* chief priest in Northeast India, served his local deity. He was well-known for miles around for his priestly care of their god embodied in the grove of trees at the bottom of a nearby hill. He led worship incantations daily and provided care for the sick or troubled folk in the community. His prescriptions for healing might include a cock’s comb, a chicken’s foot, goat’s teeth, or the sacrifice of a sheep or goat to provide a feast for the neighborhood. After receiving payment of his required fee, he would perform a ritual, which included praying for the devil or evil spirit to leave a troubled or sick person.
One day, his wife got sick. He performed his usual rituals, but she got worse. He summoned three priests from neighboring villages to come perform their rituals. As his wife continued to spiral downward, Gospel Outreach worker Ambika was doing village visitation. He visited Ganesh’s home and told him about the Bible and the Creator God who is also our Savior and Sustainer. Then Ambika asked, “Do you have any questions?”
Ganesh replied, “My wife is sick. I’ve taken her to three doctors, but it’s no use. Can you do something?” Ambika replied, “Yes, I can pray, but only if you believe.” “Hmmm!” thought Ganesh. An awkward silence followed–a long sad moment. Three days later Ganesh’s wife died.
About a week after his wife’s death, Ganesh started to feel ill. His symptoms were just like his wife’s when she got sick. When his condition became critical, Ganesh remembered Ambika’s words. With belief in his heart, he asked his family to carry him to Ambika’s house. When they arrived, Ambika was not home but visiting another village some distance away.
When Ambika’s wife saw this sick man, she was afraid the family would blame her if Ganesh died at her house. However, the porters spoke up, “You are Ambika’s wife. You can pray for Mr. Ganesh.” She prayed. Ganesh responded, “I feel like I am getting better.”
When Ambika heard about his visitor, he rushed home. He prayed also. Ganesh was healed and acknowledged the power of Jesus Christ. As a result, now three other people are planning for baptism. However, Ganesh has one regret–his wife did not have an opportunity to know Jesus and come to believe in Him.
Thank you for supporting our GO workers who are bringing light and hope into situations often dominated by darkness and despair.
* Sarnaism or Sarna, referring to a “religion of the holy woods,” defines the indigenous religions of the Adivasi populations of the states of East-Central India. Sarna means “grove” and is etymologically related to the name of the sal tree, sacred to the religion. During colonial rule, Sarna was considered a folk form of Hinduism. In recent decades, followers have started to develop an independent identity distinct from Hinduism and similar to other tribal religious movements.