Mania is a sleepy village tucked deep in the hills of the Eastern Ghats of north India. A few hundred people lived in the mud thatched roofed huts scattered in the open space surrounded by the mountains. They worshipped Patdevta, a spirit god.
Patdevta was believed to reside in a sacred brass pot. This sacred pot rested in the house of the village priest, Sriharia. A consecrated sword, used to sacrifice animals to appease it, neatly rested next to the sacred pot. Babulal, the oldest son of the priest, was being trained to carry out the animal sacrifice for Patdevta net year.
One day an IET evangelist visited the village and began to share about Jesus Christ. Sriharia was furious. He asked his son to protect the ways of their ancestors. So, a few days later when another evangelist paid a visit to the village he was beaten up by a gang of young men led by Babulal. “We beat him up severely. I tore the gospel tracts. And, we threatened him to never return if he loved his life,” says Babulal.
Sriharia was proud of his son. In the month of May, Babulal would lead the sacrifice of the three year old black ram for the spirit-god. The appeased God would then protect the children, give good rains and good crops.
Who Will Set Us Free?
Meanwhile, Sriharia began to grow worried. His wife had been suffering from an issue of blood for several months. She had now become extremely weak and found it difficult to even stand up properly.
Sriharia did the required sacrifices. He invited the most powerful withdoctors and tried everything in his power. Yet, the flow of blood continued unabated. The family then decided to carry her to the hospital. The doctors could not understand the reason or offer a cure. One day she lost all consciousness. The family now waited for death.
Babulal was very disturbed. It had been few days since his mother had become unconscious. “Who will set us free from this curse?” he thought. Then he remembered the words of the evangelist, who had shared about a Jesus who heals. He was afraid to share his thoughts with others.
Babulal decided to visit the evangelist. He walked the narrow trail from his village, hoping against all hope for a miracle. “It was one of the most difficult walks of my life,” remembers Babulal. If his father would find out, it would mean possible death.
Babulal reached the house of the IET evangelist. He heard beautiful singing coming from the house and was surprised to find a group of people singing with lifted hands. It was Sunday and Babulal was not accustomed to the ways of the Christians.
As the meeting progressed, Babulal kept asking only one thing, “Oh God of these people, if you are true then please heal my mother.” The IET evangelist, Nakul, agreed to visit the village that evening.
The entire village was angry at Babulal for inviting the evangelist to their house, however they were not going to hurt Nakul because today he was an invited guest. Nakul took oil, prayed for the unconscious lady and declared, “She has been set free. You will see her healing today.” True to the word, that evening Babulal’s mother regained complete consciousness.
Nakul continued to visit them every day for prayer and within one week Sriharia’s wife was fully healed. Once the healing was complete, Babulal forgot Jesus.
After few months Babulal fell sick. He was taken to the hospital but they were told that he would not live long. Surprisingly, Babulal saw Nakul visiting a friend in the hospital that day. Babulal repented and asked Nakul to pray for him. He walked out of the hospital that very evening, completely healed. “I was captured again by the love of Christ,” says Babulal.
Babulal came home and told his father he had decided to follow Christ and wanted to serve Him. Sriharia warned, “You cannot follow Jesus.” Babulal was afraid of the villagers and his father. So, he began to attend an IET church in a neighboring village. But, the news soon reached the ears of Babulal’s father. He was furious. Babulal tried to reason with his father and expressed a call of God to serve in ministry. His father said, “I do not know what you are saying. You are to carry on the ways of our ancestors. I will have none of this.”
Encounter with the Tiger
Babulal wrestled with the call of God and the fear of his father. That night he decided to go to his wife’s village. He was joined by two friends, one of them a believer. It was a full moon so they did not take fire. The trail through the forest shone clearly.
They then heard a low growl. The friends froze. A tiger was sitting next to its kill, about ten feet away. The tiger turned towards them. Babulal cried out to Jesus. Surprisingly, the tiger froze and stood still. One of the young men bolted. Babulal told his believer friend, “If we take this kill to my father and show him that our God not only protected us but allowed us to take away the tiger’s kill, then it will be a sign to him.” The friend, shivering, asked, “How can that be? It is difficult to take the food from a cat. How can we take this fresh kill from a hungry tiger?” Babulal did not respond but started to pray.
To their surprise, the tiger quietly moved back and then went and sat under a nearby tree, about 20 feet away. Babulal, emboldened, walked upto the kill. It was a freshly killed young calf. He and his friend then carried the half eaten calf to their village.
Go and Serve Jesus
The friend who had escaped had meanwhile alerted the village. “That must be the maneater. Babulal must be dead by now,” the villagers said. So, they were surprised to see a laughing Babulal and his friend walk into the village with a tiger kill.
The villagers put up the kill on a pole and took it around the village to show everyone. One shouted, “Babulal’s Jesus lives. He has protected him from the maneater.”
Sriharia put his hands on Babulal that night and said, “Go and serve Jesus.”
The Mountains shall Sing!
Babulal was trained in one of the many regional bible schools of IET. After training, he was sent back to Mania, his own village. Facing initial resistance, Babulal was able to bring his father to the Lord the first month The next month, a person fully lame in one leg got healed during prayer. He and his family put their faith in Jesus Christ. In less than a year, thirty four more were added to the growing congregation. Today, more than 35 families worship the living God every Sunday morning and every weekday evening at Mania. The former priest of Patdevta now serves Yeeshu dev, Lord Jesus!
Babulal has since then planted another seven churches in various villages in the hills of the Eastern Ghats of north India. He has also raised up six evangelists and oversees 7 church planters as a junior leader of Indian Evangelical Team.
“These mountains are today singing to the Lord,” says a smiling Babulal. “I will not rest until every village has been reached. This life belongs to my Lord,” he says.
God Bless you [Khuda Barkat de],
Yours to count on to see India is evangelized in our life time. No one can do it alone. But together we can do it. Let us do it – now… together
“Plant a church where there is no church”