In a nation like India, where scores of people follow alternative healing practices, it seems that God often manifests himself as Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. We met a number of Christians in Chennai who have seen His healing power first hand. Here are a few of their stories.
A Double Blessing
Just three months before the Festival began, one Chennai family witnessed a healing so remarkable that even doctors acknowledged the power of Christ.
N. Mageshwari’s kidneys both were failing, and the doctors did not think she would live much longer. Her mother, M. Saral, prayed passionately for her healing and asked the members of the Evangelical Church of India to pray along with her. Soon the entire congregation was interceding for Mageshwari, a Hindu.
On her next visit to the doctor, Mageshwari’s kidney scan was miraculously clear. She dropped to her knees before Jesus.
“I was very sick with kidney failure, which the doctors said was impossible to heal,” says Mageshwari. “But God heard the prayers of my mother and her church. Because He healed me, I believe.”
A Mother’s Prayer
Ganthi Mathi, a counselor at the Chennai Hope Festival, saw the healing power of God in her life after she cried out in complete desperation over child-bearing problems.
Born into a Hindu family, Ganthi married in 1992 and quickly conceived her first child. But after several days of life, the baby died with severe jaundice. Just a year later, another baby was born and quickly died (45 days later). Three miscarriages followed in succession.
“I fasted and prayed in the Hindu temple,” says Ganthi, “and I made many offerings in order to have a child. I tried astrology. I tried everything.”
She had heard about Jesus from her sister-in-law who was Catholic, but saw Him as one of many gods. “I even read the Bible, but only as a storybook.”
After the last miscarriage, she came before Jesus and pleaded to be healed. She promised to pray to Him alone and give up going to the Hindu temple for an entire year, “to see if He was real.”
She learned He is.
In 2002, her daughter Grace was born, but not without complications. It would be Ganthi’s third Caesarean delivery—and considered high risk. Grace also developed jaundice after birth. But this time, Ganthi prayed to Jesus and the little girl lived.
Several years passed, and Ganthi longed to have a son, but her doctors discouraged her. Still, Ganthi believed and found she was pregnant with a boy. Doctors objected to performing a fourth Caesarean section, but it wasn’t needed. Joshua came into the world on his own in 2006.
“I dedicated both my son and my daughter to the only true Lord, and gave up all my idols,” says Ganthi. “My husband and his family accepted Jesus, and He is helping my marriage.”
Her husband, D. Ramesh, adds, “At the beginning, our ambition was only to get a baby. But God spoke to us, ‘Do you want my miracle or myself?’ And now we want only Jesus, because He shed His own blood, and He is the only way.”
Ganthi now ministers to and prays with women who struggle with fertility and conception problems. She and her husband brought or invited seven people to the Festival, and five accepted Christ.
A Downward Spiral Forever Reversed
Rev. Selva Segar’s story isn’t about healing from an illness, but about deliverance from addiction and arrogance. The pastor of Living Water Assembly of God Church once lived a radically different life.
“I was a drunkard and totally involved in sports—I was a national champion and a very, very proud man. I could not sleep without alcohol,” says Selva.
“I was so faithful in Hinduism,” he continues. “I used to go to the temple a thousand times every day. I used to cut my hand and shed blood as a sacrifice to get power. Because of that, I won many matches. But this spirit began to dominate me. I became a drunkard; I became disobedient. I began to go to the clubs and gamble. I never went to my home. Everything was broken.”
A pastor from Chennai came to his house and talked with Selva for nearly six or seven months. “He took time – little by little by little – he talked with me about all the religions and gods. He has a Hindu background and proved to me that Hinduism is not correct.”
As a Hindu, Selva at first had a hard time accepting the God of the Cross “because He seemed weak to me.”
One night, Selva cried out and asked for the one true God to make Himself real. He prayed: “I go to the temple 1,008 times a day but I don’t know who you are; I don’t feel any comfort. I don’t feel you near. There is no deliverance.”
Selva says a golden light came upon him and he couldn’t walk or see. “Then, when I woke up, I took the Bible, knelt down and read it. From that time, I was a changed man. I stopped chain smoking and drinking. I used to watch bad movies but I stopped.
“That night, I was totally healed,” he adds. “My nature completely changed. I was so arrogant because of sports. So full of pride. Praise God, I am changed.”
The healing took place 21 years ago. Selva now leads a church of more than 1,000 people that is filled with Hindu converts and some Muslims. These converts often experience great trials, says Selva.
“The family of one convert who had become ill forced her to return to the Hindu temple. They even cut her hand off and thought she died,” Selva says. “But she lived because of prayer and Jesus, and everyone saw that. By God’s grace we have such testimonies in our church so that Hindus will believe. It provides an open door.”
Member of Selva’s church were very involved with My Hope India, and also prayed for the Chennai Hope Festival every day. Selva says, “I believe that prayer makes everything tremendous. Without prayer, no preaching, no ministry will work.”