Report: Bibles for Mideast and an underground ALG Church in Southeast Asia
Dalits—also known as ‘untouchables’—have traditionally been regarded as having such low status they don't even register on the caste system. Despite laws designed to protect them, they continue to face widespread discrimination and often shocking levels of abuse. Access to education, healthcare, justice and in some areas even safe drinking water remains restricted. They generally live in segregated neighborhoods or in satellite hamlets away from main population areas.
Chotti* and her husband Minju* lived as Hindu Dalit in a village nestled within a jungle in Southeast Asia. Without education or access to much of what the world considers necessities, all in the village are illiterate, with simple survival their main goal. During the day, men head deeper into the jungle to hunt small prey; women venture out to collect forest foods and firewood. If they find honey or more food than needed for their families, they sell it to people living in nearby villages and towns. Some produce their own ‘moonshine’, and overconsumption often results in drunken brawls and fights. Women must obey the men in their lives or face brutal beatings.
Sorcery regulates their belief system, and the chief sorcerer has the final word, even for matters of health and security. With training based on witchcraft rather than medicine, he serves as the community doctor and his wife. the village midwife, assists women with pregnancies and deliveries.
When Chotti gave birth to a girl, her husband’s family were furious. Girls surely bring a curse on the family—that is what the sorcerer had told them. So the family determined the baby must die.
Chotti cried and begged her husband to help save their child. Since she was their firstborn, and because his wife was so distraught, Minju finally, though reluctantly, agreed. He argued with his parents and the rest of his family until they decided to let the girl live. The youngster barely subsisted however, mostly unloved and uncared for by others. When a tiger attacked Minju one day as he was out in the forest, the sorcerer explained it happened because of his little girl. Minju believed him.
Around the time the toddler reached three, Chotti conceived again. By then, a Bibles for Mideast missionary couple had begun ministering in a nearby jungle village. Renting a shed not far from Minju and Chotti’s home, they went around to the villagers, inviting them to attend educational programs for both adults and children. They also of course shared the love of Jesus Christ wherever they went.
Few attended the classes, but the missionaries prayed faithfully for and with those who did, and invited them to share their needs. As the villagers saw more and more answers to the prayers, their interest grew and eventually belief in Jesus did as well.
At first, Minju’s family were pleased with the missionaries’ activities and attended some of the class and prayer times. But when the sorcerer came to know about their involvement, he hurried to their house, scolded them, and gave them dire warnings to stay away from the Christians. If they persisted, he assured them huge troubles, including terrible deaths, would come to the family. So at his instruction, they built a hedge of thorn plants between their home and where the Christians were meeting.
By now, though, Chotti had come to believe in Jesus. Whenever Minju and his parents went out to find food in the jungle, she would secretly attend meetings with the Christians.
When Chotti was five months along in her second pregnancy, the sorcerer and his wife declared this child also to be a girl. Further, they said, the coming girl would be the cause for the destruction of both the family and the whole jungle. They, along with Minju’s family, ordered her to abort the child immediately. But Chotti felt convinced that whether girl or boy, the baby is a gift of her Lord Jesus. So she refused to go along with their demands.
One night, the sorcerer, his wife and several others—in a plan arranged by Minju’s family—arrived at the house and ambushed Chotti. She screamed and cried out the name of Jesus, but they refused to listen. As they forcibly attempted to abort the baby, Chotti began bleeding severely, then fell unconscious. When her breathing stopped, the sorcerer declared her dead. He instructed the men in the group to carry her body to a place in the jungle called ‘suicide point’ by the locals … a cliff deep in the jungle where desperate villagers would leap to their deaths. Even if they survived, no one would come looking for them out of fear of the numerous wild animals. As the men carried away Chotti’s limp body, her little three-year-old ran behind them, crying loudly for her mother. So when they reached the cliff, the men threw both of them over and into the deeper recesses of the jungle.
But the mighty and living Lord Jesus Christ scooped Chotti and her daughter up into his nail-pierced hands and rescued them. Chotti had not yet died, but was simply unconscious. She says that as she gazed into the face of her Savior she felt as a baby must, looking into its mother’s loving face. The Lord brought them to the doorstep of the missionaries’ home, near the house they had just left. She knew she was safe in His hands.
The missionary couple were praying in their room when they heard someone at their doorstep. They opened their window, surprised to see the pregnant woman and her three-year-old child. They rushed to the door and helped them inside. The young mother tried to explain what had happened.
All of them knew Chotti could not stay there. It wouldn’t be safe for her, her child, or for the missionaries. So the next day the couple brought them to an ALG church in another state.
A few months later, the Lord blessed Chotti with a baby boy, now three months old. She named him Yiesho Das (servant of Jesus), and gave her first child a new name, Mary. They are all happy in our Lord, and Chotti has learned to read the bible.
Minju and his parents believe Chotti and the girl died in the jungle, and were likely eaten by animals. While his parents want him to remarry, he does not want to. Chotti still loves him and asks that we pray for Minju and his salvation. She holds in her heart the idea of having a faithful Christian life with him and their doing joint ministry among their own people.
Please pray for Chotti, Minju, their family and all the ministers and ministries of Bibles for Mideast.
* names changed for security reasons