Ramya grew up following the traditional rituals and idol worship of Hinduism. But when a local pastor gave her a radio and urged her to listen to the gospel radio programs, her life started to change.
Half a world away, Ramya sits in the open air of her rooftop porch surrounded by members of her extended family. They are gathered around a computer screen to talk to me and to a Words of Hope producer in another location of India who is serving as our interpreter.
Ramya lives in a home with her husband’s family, a common arrangement in India. Her husband, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, nephew, and niece all share in our conversation, and in daily life together.
The sun is coming up for me, but the sky darkens behind Ramya as we talk. She lives in Patna, India, a large eastern city near the border with Nepal. I ask her if other members of her family are also Christians. “My entire family is Christian,” she says. They have been Christians for over two years now.
A Step of Faith
Ramya explains that a pastor in her community had been trying to share the gospel with her for some time, but she was not initially interested in what he had to say.
Finally, he gave her a small radio tuned to Words of Hope programming and urged her to listen. “As I listened, questions came into my heart,” she says. She knew the pastor’s congregation was nearby, so she decided to join the fellowship in order to discover answers.
One particular story that she heard early on sticks in Ramya’s memory. It was the story of Abraham being promised a child in his old age. While Ramya and her husband have been married for twenty years, they have not been able to have a child of their own.
The story of Abraham and the Lord’s divine intervention encouraged Ramya. She hoped that with God’s help she and her husband might still have a child. As she attended church to learn more about God, her understanding and faith deepened. As she listened to more of Abraham’s story and how it fit into the narrative arc of the gospel, Ramya came to believe that Jesus had died for her sins, and that he is the only Savior.
Ramya says, “When I heard that message about Abraham, I had hope that God would bless me with a child. However, even if that doesn’t happen, now I know who Jesus is. He died for me, and gave me eternal life. Even if he doesn’t answer this particular prayer, I will still love Jesus. If having a child gives him glory, then I still hope that he will give me a child. But even if he doesn’t, still I will glorify him, and still I will follow him.”
Ramya was the first person in her family to hear about Jesus, and she quickly began to share what she was learning with everyone in her household. At first, she says, they were resistant. “They were not very happy with me, but I was persistent, and I shared whatever I heard. Slowly they began to believe.”
And Ramya didn’t stop with the family members in her home. She wanted her own mother, father, and siblings living far away to believe as well. Bravely, she continued sharing her faith. Her siblings have also now converted, though her parents remain skeptical, and sadly her father passed away a few months ago.
It wasn’t long before Ramya was given yet another opportunity to share her faith. Words of Hope began a children’s ministry center in Patna in 2018. The center provides free tutoring for underprivileged students. When Ramya’s pastor told her that volunteers were needed at the center, she was eager to help.
Ramya went door to door, telling families about the opportunity. Today she tutors a dozen or so children five days a week. A few of the children belong to families from her church, but most are from migrant worker families and live in poverty.
One day each week, Ramya teaches the children a lesson from the Bible. The rest of the days she assists them with other aspects of elementary education to complement the learning they encounter at school.
“I hope they can have some help regarding their studies,” she says. “And more importantly, as they are still very young, if they listen to the gospel, I hope they will grow in the blessings of the Lord. My dream is that every child will be saved and have eternal life.”