The day that changed my life
Professing one’s faith can be a real challenge. In fact, it can even turn into a struggle for survival. This is the experience of Mankee Nag, a 27-year-old Indian woman. She gives us a candid look into her life.
Where do you live?
I come from a village called Krushnar, which is located in Jagdalpur district in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. People here speak Hindi, the national language, as well as the local languages Gondi and Halbi. It is a very backward tribal region in which religion, community, and caste are of great significance to this day.
Some 94 per cent of the population in the region are non-Christian, and the people in our village do not know anything about Jesus Christ. In our culture, we worship idols.
How did you become acquainted with the Christian faith?
In the course of my life, I had always wondered how idols formed from metal, stone, or wood could have anything to do with God. One day in March 2014, as I was going to see my relatives in a village some 25 kilometres away, I met an Evangelist from the New Apostolic Church. He told me about Jesus Christ, the only true God, and about the New Apostolic life of faith. In our conversation, the Evangelist helped me understand what the altar of grace was and that it was the only way to salvation. On my way back home, it became clear to me that Jesus Christ is the real way to salvation, and I made the decision to follow Him. This day changed my life.
When did you become New Apostolic?
The following month, on 13 April 2014, I had walked five kilometres to attend an open air divine service conducted by Apostle Christranjan Nanda. It was a rare sight in my area to see two hundred people together. We were all very excited, as it was the first time we could see an Apostle of Jesus Christ. He spoke about salvation that is offered at the altar of grace. I listened with open eyes and ears. That day I was one of nineteen people who received the sacrament of Holy Sealing through Apostle Nanda. I decided to remain strong under all circumstances.
I was still left with many questions, and I was sure that the person who could answer them was Apostle Nanda. This kept me quite busy for some time to follow, as I called him over the phone every day for an entire month. He guided me through my doubts and prayed with me.
Was there a New Apostolic congregation near your village?
Another month later, Apostle Nanda visited the village of Mardapa, which is two kilometres away from our village. In a divine service there he ordained a Priest. I was so happy that I would finally be able to attend divine services every Sunday. Now we have a small group of twenty people who gather at a member’s home for divine services. It gives me immense joy to walk up to other villagers and invite them to come to church. I also organise prayer meetings and Bible study circles to keep our members connected when the minister is out of town. On Sundays I love to spend the day with the members of the congregation and share my experiences, since most of the people in my village do not speak to me during the week.
And how did your family react at your decision to become a Christian?
I was really excited to share my new insights about Jesus Christ with them and my conviction. My parents sternly refused to accept Jesus Christ, as they knew that the entire family would be cast out of our community. Although my parents refused to accept my conviction, they are denied work in our farming community because I am Christian.
Your decision to live a Christian life breaks with traditions that are followed in your village …
In India, the average age for a girl to get married is about 22. However, according to our local rituals, a girl should be married around the age of 15. It is therefore common practice for parents to plan the wedding of their daughter from the time of her birth, and I am no exception. The boy chosen for me was non-Christian. But I am firm with the decision of leading a Christian life and would rather remain unmarried than marrying a non-Christian. I pray to God to reveal His will to me.
How do you manage? What do you do for a living?
Our region is known as the Rice Bowl of India. We grow many varieties of rice and seasonal pulses. As a family, farming was our livelihood. Since we are no longer permitted to work on farms, as I mentioned earlier, life has become very difficult for us. So I learned how to stitch clothes, and support my ageing parents by tailoring for nearby villagers. This is how we try to make ends meet. Actually, I finished grade 12 and would like to pursue a bachelor’s degree in arts, which would help me help my family and allow me to contribute to society.
What is your greatest wish, your dream?
I wish my family could understand what I feel. I am waiting for the day when the people in our village will get to know about Jesus Christ, the New Apostolic doctrine, and we will get our own church building. tab/dg