How God saved a Hindi full of Bitterness after being forced to marry at age 12 and going through many years of terrible mistreatment.
Background: I was born in the small village of Renishaw on the south coast of Kwa-Zulu
Natal, South Africa, on the 24th August 1960. My parents had thirteen children of which I was the second youngest. We belonged to the Hindu religion. My parents were very poor people as my father was disabled and my mother received a pension from the government to support all of us. I loved to go to my school, which was Umzinto Secondary High school, even though my uniforms were very old. In the year that I was doing Standard 5, unbeknown to my father, my mother contacted one of his relatives and said to him that if he was interested in marriage, she would give me to him as a wife. He was willing and an agreement was made. The reason she did this was because many young Indian girls were becoming pregnant and having babies whom they had to support alone without the help of a husband. She was afraid that I would get pregnant too and bring shame upon the family, so she decided that if she chose a husband for me, I would be taken care of, have a family of my own and would be out of her way. Nothing for her to worry about any more!
In the meantime, my father spent all of his disability grant money to buy me some new school clothes and shoes so that I could complete my schooling. He did not know what my mother was doing, and when he found out he did not approve.
My mother came to me one day and said “I want you to marry this man and have your own family. “I was only twelve years old and did not understand what she was saying. She then introduced me to him, saying “This is the man I want you to spend the rest of your life with!” I did not love him but I had to obey and please my mum. My dad was angry about the whole situation but he also had no choice because my mum was ruling the house. She then arranged for this man to move into our house.
I was still in Standard 5 and used to board the bus from my home to school each day. As soon as I jumped off the bus after school, my future husband would be waiting for me at the bus stop. He would place my bag on his bicycle and we would walk home. Often I would not speak a word to him all the way. My mum watched me all the time to see if I was nagging him or chasing him away. Yes, I wanted to get rid of him but everything I said or did, he would report back to her and complain. She would get hold of me and hit me. This happened all the time.
I managed to pass Standard 5 and move on to Standard 6. In the first week of March 1974 my schooling came to an end. On that day I used the clothes my father had bought for the last time. When I came home from school my mum came to me and said “You are not going back to school.” I did not understand why, but was afraid so did not say a word. Mum said she had told the social workers that she was sending me to my eldest sister because she could not afford to support me; but this was actually untrue. She then said we could live as a married
couple and he must buy birth control tablets to prevent pregnancy. We were never taught about sin in the Hindu religion.
I resisted the idea of marriage, refused to take the tablets and did not want the man my mother forced upon me, anywhere near me. Whilst I was at home full-time, he took advantage of me. Soon I fell pregnant with our first daughter. With much shouting and fighting, I submitted to my mother’s decision. We stayed with my parents until I was nine months pregnant and the baby was due. After that, the Renishaw company my husband worked for, provided us with a
house of our own and we moved there. After the birth of our daughter, we went to court and got married, registering the baby at the same time. From that time on, my husband’s drinking habits grew worse and he was also unfaithful to me a number of times. He was unstable and only worked for three years altogether during our 16 year marriage. We moved from place to place, staying in tin shanties with leaking roofs, rain pouring in and sometimes no running water. We had no electricity and drew water from ponds.
Religion: We grew up as staunch Hindus and therefore worshipped many gods. My husband used to go into a trance in order to dance and perform at the temples. During religious festivals, the evil spirits would manifest as he would pierce his body with gold needles pushed through his cheeks and tongue, and hooks would be put into the flesh of his back and chest with coconuts hanging on them. With these same types of hooks in his back, he would pull chariots made of plank from the temple yard to the river. These chariots we would decorate with crepe paper to make it colourful. We also had a temple built at the side of our house and one in a section of our bedroom in which there were pictures and statues of Hindu gods, as well as brass lamps, incense and camphor. We were very religious people and were worshipped by other Hindus as gods ourselves. As a guru in the Hindu faith, I used to chant and meditate in front of idols which we worshipped as gods. Besides teaching the Tamil language, I also led ceremonies and funeral services with singing and was called upon often to help Hindu people. On Sundays I would conduct ceremonies at public temples.
During that time, my husband became an alcoholic. He started selling our clothes, food, kitchen-ware, saucepans and whatever else he could find, including the children’s clothes. He even sold the gold needles which were used on his body to perform Hindu practices and stole all our money which I kept for paying rent and other accounts. Day and night he would be drunk. By this time we had two more children, another daughter and a son, three altogether.
Job: At this time, I managed to find work as a gardener at the home of Mr. And Mrs. Martin who lived in Scottburgh South on the Natal coast, working with my baby son strapped onto my back After a few months, I was taken into the house to work as a maid. I remained in that job for 12 years altogether. My employers were nice people although not born-again believers but Mrs. Martin’s elderly parents who stayed with them were true Christians. They were humble people who would pray for me constantly and talk to me about the Lord Jesus Christ, or show me scriptures whenever they saw I was troubled and going through trials at home. They had missionary friends from the Church of the Nazarene who would visit them each week and spend some time praying and reading God’s Word together. Sometimes when they had prayers in their bedroom I would listen at the keyhole to what they were saying.
heard them pray for me but I did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and would always challenge them with my gods whom I worshipped.
My husband went from bad to worse after I started working. We seldom spoke to each other and had no happiness at all. All I could do was cry to the Hindu gods for help as I suffered from deep depression. The care and schooling of the three children was my full responsibility. By this time my husband started having epileptic fits, which caused him to fall
on the ground and get badly hurt. Due to his mental and physical state, he was unable to perform the religious ceremonies properly which angered the Hindu gods. I took him to Hindu temples and rehab centres but nothing helped. After 16 years I gave up on this marriage and filed for a divorce. My husband went to live with his family. After he left, I was drawn closer to my Hindu gods and in fact, was regarded as a god myself. When Hindu people looked at me, they gave me glory due to a god.
Testimony: In March 1993 a miracle took place! Mrs. Martin’s 86 year old father died and her mother, whom we called Gran, went to live with her youngest daughter Mrs. Liebenberg in Port Elizabeth so for the first time, when my employers were at work I was all alone at their house. One morning around 9.30 am I went into the living room and sat in Gran’s chair to have a cup of tea. I became emotional and began to cry. I was feeling so alone bringing up three children on my own and had been asking my Hindu gods to send me a husband as I desired to be married. I begged these gods to help me. As I was crying, my hand reached out to the Bible Gran had left on a small table beside her chair. I placed it on my lap and opened it up for the first time in my life as the Bible is a forbidden book in the Hindu religion. My eyes fell upon Isaiah chapter 54 and I began reading from verse 4 to verse 8. “Fear not for you will not be put to shame. Neither feel humiliated for you will not be disgraced, but you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your HUSBAND is your Maker whose Name is the Lord of Hosts, and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. For the Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife in one’s youth when she is rejected. But with everlasting loving kindness I will have compassion on you.” After reading these words of scripture I went into the kitchen to prepare and lay the table before my employers returned for lunch. Then I felt drawn to go back and re-open the Bible. This time when I opened it, I read Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you.” I did not understand what this meant. After work, I returned home quietly and never said a word to anyone.
Meanwhile, as my eldest brother Michael was taking a bath at his own house, he thought he heard my voice speaking to him (but I was not there). After that, he got dressed and brought his family to my house to see if perhaps I needed him. While we were sitting in the living room the television was on and an advert with Hindu gods appeared on the screen. Instantly my brother said “Hey Rani, these things are not gods at all. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only God.” I asked him how he knew that and he said that he had been attending a Christian
prayer meeting at work in the lunch break. From that time, my brother and his wife started reading the Bible at home, but any time I visited them they would hide it under a pillow because they respected me as a Hindu religious leader. Now I opened up to them and told them that I too had read the Bible. They were very shocked. We discussed it for a while and then decided we would all become Christians and at the same time approached our mother to ask her what she had to say about it. She was living with me at the time and was 68 years of age. She said that if her eldest son chose to become a Christian, she would be willing to follow his example. There was much excitement in our home that day, but I felt I would prefer to postpone it for 2 months as there were two family weddings up ahead shortly. However, the Lord asked me if I died that night where would I go, and so that same week my mum, my brother’s family and my family all got saved and started attending a Christian church. The results of that were:
1. Immediately my divorce came through.
2. I was able to release my ex-husband and forgive him.
3. All my Hindu family were angered and rejected me, but since then there has been forgiveness and reconciliation.
4. I have been through trials and sickness but the Lord Jesus Christ has set me free.
Ministry: I am now in God’s service, working independently with older folk, bathing them, praying with them and speaking to them in their own language which is Tamil. I also do door to door visitation and counsel married couples with problems and also youth. Wherever the Lords leads me I go. I have been a divorced mother for 23 years and all my children are now married. I belong to Bethel New Life Fellowship church in Umzinto and my pastor is Pastor Scallen Soobremony who is a preacher of the Word of God.
I thank God for saving me and forgiving my sins.
I thank my pastor and his family for teaching me.
I thank Mr. & Mrs. Liebenberg also for teaching me God’s Word.
I thank the Africa Evangelistic Band of Pennington.
I do not have any regrets becoming a Christian. I love studying the Word and serving my God (the Lord Jesus Christ). The Bible is the only Book which gave me life and purpose to live. Only the Bible reveals the one true God, the Lord Jesus Christ. No turning back!