Preetha was violently attacked while praying with some friends - and then she was denied treatment in hospital, because of her faith. Here's her story - and how you're helping her, and can support other believers facing the same ordeal.
When Preetha* woke up in hospital, the first thing she felt was pain – pain all over her body. Her hand hurt most. She looked down at it – it barely looked like a hand. There were deep cuts in four of her fingers and her palm, and blood was everywhere.
"The doctors won’t treat you because we’re Christians" Preetha's son
Preetha could see her daughter, Mirai*, in the bed next to her, with her own deep cuts and dark bruises.
Her son who was by her bedside told her: “The doctors are saying they won’t treat you because we’re Christians. Where can we go now?”
The memories started flooding back of what she had endured before she lost consciousness.
Preetha and her husband, a pastor, had been visiting a woman from their church – Vinita*. She had been harassed, and wanted to pray with them. But they hadn’t been praying long when a terrible attack began.
Eight or nine men burst into the house with weapons, calling “Where are the Christians? We don’t want Christians here!”
The other men started smashing everything in sight, and wildly attacking the small gathered group of believers. The last thing Preetha remembers of the ordeal is a man lifting up an iron rod to attack her. She held up her hand to try to stop the blow – and then everything went dark.
“As they hit me with the rod, I went unconscious,” says Preetha. “I do not remember anything – I was like a dead body. My daughter saw and dragged me away to another house. They followed us inside, and beat me again.”
Amazingly, everyone survived the attack – but were now being denied treatment by the hospital, simply because of their faith.
Just a few years before, it had been Preetha’s husband, Navin*, who had been attacking Christians. Like St Paul, he went from persecuting believers to being a fervent servant of God. Preetha remembers watching one day as he had snatched a bunch of gospel leaflets out of a man’s hand.
"As they hit me with the rod, I went unconscious" Preetha
“We’re not interested in your foreign gods here,” Navin said, tearing the leaflets into pieces and throwing them in the man’s face.
He had beaten Christians, hoping it would keep them away. But they kept coming – and some of their friends in the village even converted to Christianity. Preetha had felt the same about Christians until one day she became curious about the god they were always talking about.
Mirai, their daughter, had been suffering from a skin disease since childhood. It was causing serious psychological trauma to the girl. The couple had tried everything the local Hindu priest suggested – fasting and praying to the Hindu gods, taking part in all kinds of rituals and ceremonies. Nothing helped.
Christians from their village suggested that they take Mirai to church. Preetha was willing to try anything at this point, and so took the girl to a priest who prayed for her. Miraculously, Mirai’s condition started improving! Preetha and Navin were so amazed that they started investigating Christianity more thoroughly – and eventually chose to follow Jesus. Navin even became a pastor.
This decision didn’t go down well with their village and relatives. They were told that Christianity was a foreign religion and that they were ‘anti-Indian’.
“We were threatened before,” says Preetha. “We were persecuted and attacked. They told us to stop the church and ministry.”
Finally, the threats turned into action, resulting in this violent attack.
Thankfully, Navin was able to give his wife good news in her hospital bed: “Preetha, I’ve been speaking to Pastor Jeet. He says his team will help us – they’re going to take us to another hospital where you can be treated.”
Pastor Jeet* is a local Open Doors partner in India. Thanks to the gifts and prayers of Open Doors supporters, he was equipped to take Preetha and the others to a different hospital, pay their medical bills and help Vinita recover her business – which had been damaged in the attack. Local partners have also helped with a legal case against the attackers.
“Thank you, not just to God but also to His people who have helped us,” says Preetha. “Yes, I have seen God’s favour as well as the favour of God’s people. You helped, thinking of me as your own.”
Despite the trauma she has experienced, she says she is comforted by God’s Word. She quotes Isaiah 49:15, which says, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
“This word strengthens me,” she says. “God is always with me.”
"You helped, thinking of me as your own" Preetha
Sadly, this attack is not an isolated incident by any means. Hindu extremists have vowed to quickly wipe out Christians and other non-Hindus from India, and they use extreme violence to carry out their plans.
Many other Indian Christians are in the same position as Preetha – caught between two terrible crises, of persecution and pandemic. They need your help today to keep going – and to keep the church alive in India.
*Name changed for security reasons
On 15 August, Indian Independence Day, please show your support for the persecuted church in India by posting a photo of yourself on social media, holding the hashtag #StandForTruthIndia. Together, we can raise awareness and help bring hope to women like Preetha.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.