Squeeze Pt. 2: Savio

In the previous part of “Squeeze,” we read the testimony of a young man who had to leave his home due to the persecution he faced. Undoubtedly, all that Christians in a similar situation face up to that point is dreadful. However, leaving one’s home is not the end of the story; and building one’s life after is no easy matter either. Life can be just as difficult, if not more so; and one set of problems gets replaced by another.

Annette is one such case. After separating from her parents, she had to juggle working, studying, and taking care of her sister— all in the midst of poverty; persecution; and physical, mental and emotional distress. Furthermore, she not only had to deal with persecution from unbelievers; she also was discriminated against and mistreated by Christians who were not just of no help in her time of need but rather added to the hardships she was facing.

This is her story.

Annette was born into a Hindu family. Though she grew up in a large extended family, she never saw love or affinity amongst them throughout her life. In fact, she, her parents, and her younger siblings were separated from their relatives due to a dispute. Her own parents were not loving or affectionate either. Eventually, she sought love in various gods, wandering from place to place of worship. Yet she could not find peace anywhere.

One year, she heard from someone about a children’s Bible school and began attending every Sunday. Annette learned about the life and love of God in that Bible school, and she got saved. Later, Annette stated that the best time of her life was spent there

In 2012, Annette’s parents suddenly decided to move from the city to the village. They tried to force Annette and her younger siblings to go with them, and they intended to not allow Annette to study further. Annette rejected their decision, determined to gain her education. Her parents left all three siblings in the city and went to the village. After some time, her brother also moved away,  and she was left to raise her sister alone. At the time, she herself was only seventeen years old.

During this time, an older woman used to visit Annette’s house and pray with them. Annette grew in her walk with the Lord. Her landlord informed her father about these things; and, upon hearing those, her father stopped sending her support in order to “teach her a lesson.”

Annette was forced to start working to earn for herself and her sister. Many days, she would have only one meal a day. One day, not having sufficient money to buy even a bar of soap, she sold her college books for a mere five rupees, which she used to purchase soap. In this way, her  life continued for some time.

In 2015, she received a diploma in engineering. She wanted to study further so she could graduate with a degree, but she lacked the financial support. With no other choice presenting itself, she decided to pursue a degree in liberal arts instead.

The night before she registered herself in college for an art degree, she heard a voice instructing her to study engineering. The voice told her about the disadvantages of studying liberal arts while presenting the benefits of engineering.

In her mind, she was conflicted and cried out to the Lord because she neither had money nor support from her parents. Furthermore, Annette worried whether she was capable of studying such a difficult subject. She even went so far as registering herself in college, having to borrow a somewhat significant amount of money to do so.

Uneasiness filled her heart at her decision. Weighted down, she laid the dilemma before the Lord. At length, she decided to make a compromise: she withdrew her registration in liberal arts, but she did not apply to major in engineering either.

Then, God created a miracle and provided a job for her which allowed her to work and study at the same time! He protected her when she was questioned about her education even after she had stated that she did not have a degree. God gave her favor; He changed her manager’s mind; the manager took special approval for Annette to be able to keep her job; and she started working there.

Despite those previous victories, her battles were not over, though. Annette was deluged with work, studying, and taking care of her younger sister. She was persecuted by many people for following God. Her landlord would gossip that she must have been bribed to become a Christian. Her colleagues often made bad statements about her faith. She never reciprocated their attacks. Believers, as well, would, in many instances, say wrong things to her, expecting her to live the way they thought she should and looking down on her because she had not been born in a Christian family. They behaved as though God would not speak to her because of her background. They would show disbelief towards the visions the Lord had given her. Furthermore, she was bombarded with health issues as well. “I was affected spiritually, mentally, and physically by all these things that happened in my life. Separation from my parents; being away from the church; believers not showing faith in the vision I saw; undue pressure, torture, worry, loneliness, responsibility, lots of stress, and physical illness— I was struggling with all these things.” She revealed.

Every single day, Annette thought about killing herself, due to those circumstances; but, every single day, God gave her strength to survive in that situation.

Many such days later, the Lord brought her out of the mire. God silenced all those who spoke against her. He provided for her and brought her closer to her sister. In this season, she has begun receiving the blessings of God, though many of His promises to her are yet to be fulfilled.

Annette said, “If I am at this place today, it is not because of any big miracle that happened to my life but only because of God’s love, which even my parents could not give me. Apart from all this, God has added some important people in my life, who understand me at ground level, who really care for me, love me, and continuously pray for me. The last ten years taught me a lot…”

That is the end of Annette’s story— of the part that she shared with us. There is so much more than what was told. The pain she went through; her struggles to manage her life and take care of her sister; mistreatment from her parents, who, till now, do not support her but rather add to her load; backstabbing from other Christians; the vision God has put in her heart for the future— these are all part of the iceberg under just the tip that she shared with us.

Her testimony has a theme throughout. As she said, “Before fully understanding the love of God, I kept wandering in different places of worship and searched for love in every god.” However, it is sad to note that she rarely ever was given the love and support she had a right to. Her family left and troubled her. And, even after she came to the Lord, the body of Christ failed to demonstrate the love of God. They belittled her, though they should have been building her up. The very people who were supposed to be a strength to her not only did not support her but also criticized and lashed out at her.

The parable of the good Samaritan comes to mind, and we can draw parallels from the story to that of Annette: a priest and a Levite passed the man who had been robbed, and they both turned a blind eye to him; most of the believers in Annette’s life did not intervene in her crises. Think of it: we, as Christians, are “a royal priesthood”; and if the priests, the representatives of God, do not step up when the world needs it, who will?? The robbed man was so badly beaten he could have died; Annette was so enervated she constantly thought about committing suicide. It is a good thing that neither the man nor Annette died the wrong way and that epoch in Annette’s life did not put an end to all that God has for her.

Many Christians and other people are in that vulnerable, wounded state, however; and those who are not have a responsibility, a duty, a calling, to be the good Samaritan who shows them the love of God in action and not merely in theory and words. The only question is: are we that Levite and priest or are we the Samaritan.

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