Personal stories from India: Radha

Unexpected Hope

Many in our church in India have asked to share their stories with you. Here is Radha’s story.

Today, I am so honored to share with you Radha’s story. Each week at our church in India, many stand up to share how the Lord has blessed them. They tell of their hard beginnings in life, many forced to beg just to have a few bites of food to eat each day. Others worked dangerous jobs that those in higher social positions wouldn’t do.

This was the reality for every person in our church. People born into tribes who are the lowest in society, they are not able to attend school or find safe work. They are unable to provide for themselves or their families. They are unable to help their children have a better chance in life than they did. These are people who society had cast aside—forgotten and unwanted.

Thankfully, the Lord doesn’t see what we see, and He loves to transform lives!

Many in our church have asked us to share their stories with you. They are so grateful for their new lives in Jesus and the way He is transforming their tribe, their families and their hearts. They still can’t believe that thousands of people across the globe have loved them enough to share their abundance with people they’ve never met. They are honored that even more pray for them daily. And they want you to know just how desperate and how hopeless they were before they were introduced to Jesus, and His Church. Knowing Jesus has given them something that was stolen from them—hope.

Gracethrufaith turns 20 this year, and through all our outreaches, the strongest spiritual weapon I’ve seen is hope. Hope knows that when we’re in the pit it’s not the end of the story.  

When I met her last year, she told me she was a widow. When I told her I was too, her eyes welled up with great sadness, and incredible compassion. I can’t even imagine the incredible pain and suffering that Radha has experienced, but she said we are more alike than she ever would have believed. And we are. We are both daughters of the King, loved unimaginably and unconditionally. Below Radha shares her story. In her words, she went from despair to unexpected hope. Our volunteers and I have marveled at the words she chose there: unexpected hope.

Here are her words:

Radha: I am from a very poor background. I am a beggar. I got married and had a beautiful daughter. All day long we needed to beg to have something to eat that day. At night my husband would drink alcohol until he fell asleep. Two years later I gave birth to a son, but when he was a baby, someone stole him from me. I still don’t know where he is, and I miss him. My husband beat me so much. Later I gave birth to another daughter.

Radha and her daughter Lakshmi in their newly covered hut

We still could only eat by begging for food each day. Then my husband started to consume even more alcohol, and he was sick from all the years drinking. Then again I conceived and gave birth to twins, a boy, and a girl. Unfortunately, they both are deaf and mute.

Sandhya, 8
Anand, in the middle, 8

When the twins were not even one year old, my husband died due to liver failure. I didn’t get to see his body because I didn’t have the means to bury him. The government people must have burnt the body.

As a widow with several children, two who couldn’t communicate, I didn’t know what to do. It was difficult for me to spend the day begging in the streets and also take care of my children. I was so desperate and so depressed that I wished I was dead. So I started to drink alcohol, just like my husband had. I became so sick that I was laying on the street and someone took me to the local hospital. I didn’t know what would happen to my children, but I learned later that other beggars were trying to help by feeding them rotten food. They gave my children food that the hotels had thrown away on the roadside.

Radha and her daughter in front of their new hut!

When the hospital released me, I came back to my hut, but I was still very sick and felt hopeless. I thought I was dying and I still wanted to die. Somehow, after a few weeks, I got better. But I still had to feed my children every day, and I was so hopeless that I thought we would all be better off dead. Every night we waited for the hotels to throw food on the street and we would run and grab the thrown food, wipe the sand and dirt off it and eat.

I lived each day without hope and wanting death. If anyone gave me money, I would buy alcohol and drink. I was fed up of this life, not able to care for myself, and with two children being deaf and mute and the other two are girls. I had already had a tough life. I was abused physically, and sexually. I don’t want to remember those years.

Through the helpers with GTF, I met Jesus. Jesus Christ changed my life, and now my children are so happy! My oldest is married. My other daughter is with me and goes to the local school. My twins are in a special boarding school that helps with their needs. They are all learning to read and write. I am also, and go to the adult literacy classes with Gracethrufaith. I love Jesus, and I wait each Sunday to worship him.

Once I was on the street begging, and now, I go to the same street with my pushcart to sell. People do recognize me and ask me, “Were you not a beggar? How come you have a cart?” I tell them Jesus gave me unexpected hope.

Samantha: Like all in this tribe, we met Radha when the Lord put Parvathi in our path.
I’m so grateful that when I share Radha’s words that I know those last few paragraphs in her story above! That her story didn’t end in despair. I know that she is safe and loved and has a dry hut to go to every night. (We were able to put a new covering on her hut when I was there in January!) I know that because of givers around the world she is successful (you can see when we gave her the pushcart here) and her children attend school! And she is attending our Literacy Classes as well!

Each of the twins, Sandhya and Anand, took turns wearing my straw hat during VBS last year!

Thank you for reading Radha’s story. It’s important to her that you know how blessed and how grateful she is. Since we only have photos of her “after” I placed them within her story. It’s a little jarring to read her desperate words and then see the smiling, healthy afters, but maybe that’s a helpful perspective for our hard situations too. We can look for the unexpected hope of the smiling afters in the middle of the desperate hard times.

♥ Samantha