I WILL never forget a breakfast gathering of my immediate family on Monday morning, August 22, 2005. My life was in the balance, as I had a large tumor on my brain. My husband, Krishna, said a prayer, and then I spoke to the family.
“I am going to the hospital for a high-risk operation,” I explained, “so you must all be prepared for whatever the outcome may be. I have made arrangements for my funeral, should that be necessary. To those of you who are worshipping Jehovah, please don’t give up. To the rest of you, I beg that you accept the offer of a Bible study and that you attend our Christian meetings. That way you may be able to share my faith in a coming new world in which God’s true worshippers will live forever in perfect health on a paradise earth.”
Before explaining the outcome of my operation, allow me to tell you about my background and how I came to know the true God.
My Hindu Upbringing
My family lived in a large wood-and-iron house on a hill in the coastal city of Durban, South Africa. To get to the front gate of our house, we first had to climb 125 steps from the main road in the valley below. Those stairs led to a short, bushy pathway that brought us to an iron gate. On one side of the gate stood my grandmother’s temple, which was filled with pictures and images of Hindu gods. Granny told me that I was a “temple child” (mandir kī baccā, in Hindi) and that the gods we worshipped were responsible for my birth. Opposite this temple was a flight of polished red stairs, which led to the front door. The house was large, with a long passage, a big kitchen with a coal stove, seven bedrooms, and a one-bedroom outbuilding. Those dwellings were shared by 27 of us, including my grandparents, my father, his three younger brothers, his youngest sister, and their families.
It was not easy to care for the needs of such a large family. But communal living kept the family together and gave us many happy memories. The four daughters-in-law, including my mother, Gargee Devi, shared the household chores. They took turns cooking meals and cleaning. My grandfather was the head of the house, and he bought the food for the entire family. Every Wednesday my grandparents went to the market to buy meat, fruit, and vegetables for the week. We used to sit under the shade of a pine tree at the edge of the bank that overlooked the valley below as we waited for them to return from the market. As soon as we spotted them getting off the bus with their large baskets, we would run down the 125 steps to assist in bringing the goodies home.
In our garden, we had a tall palm tree in which birds called mynahs had built their nest. We would see them flying to and fro and could hear them chirping. My grandmother would sit on the stairs at the front door and tell us stories, as if she were interpreting the sounds the mynahs made. I have so many good memories of the life we shared in that home! We laughed, we cried, we played, we smiled, we shared
Prior to our learning about Jehovah, our Hindu worship included many daily rituals. We also had big celebrations at regular intervals, where we would invite guests to venerate the different gods and goddesses. At some of those functions, my grandmother would go into a trance and communicate with spirits, and at exactly midnight, animal sacrifices were made to appease them. My grandfather was also well-known in the community for his charitable contributions to the construction and operation of public schools and Hindu temples.
How We Found the Truth About Jehovah
In 1972, my grandfather became ill and died. A few months later, one of my aunts named Indervathey, also known as Jane, accepted the Watchtower and Awake! magazines from two of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She felt guilty that she had not invited them into our home for a discussion. We had always turned the Witnesses away. But the next time they called, my aunt invited them in and spoke to them about a marital problem involving my uncle’s abuse of alcohol. Neighbors and relatives had encouraged my aunt to consider a divorce. The Witnesses explained God’s view of marriage. (Matthew 19:6) My aunt was impressed with the Bible’s advice and with its promise of a better life to come here on earth. * She changed her mind about leaving my uncle, and she began having a regular Bible study with the Witnesses. While she studied in the lounge of our home, the other daughters-in-law listened to the discussion from their rooms.
Eventually, all of the daughters-in-law joined in the Bible study. Aunt Jane shared what she learned and often read and explained stories to us from the book Listening to the Great Teacher. * When my uncles came to know that my aunts were studying the Bible, they began to oppose us. One of my uncles took all our literature, including a Bible, and burned it. They abused us verbally and physically for attending the meetings. My father was the only one who did not display such an attitude; he never objected to our learning about Jehovah. All four daughters-in-law kept on attending meetings and growing in their love for Jehovah God.
In 1974, my aunt Jane was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and my mother and other aunts soon followed. In time, my grandmother gave up her Hindu religious practices. For many years I tagged along, attending all the Christian meetings. Then, at a large convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Witness named Shameela Rampersad asked, “When are you going to get baptized?” I replied, “I cannot because nobody has ever conducted a Bible study with me.” She offered to do so. At the next convention, on December 16, 1977, I was baptized. Eventually, out of the 27 members of my family that had lived together, 18 got baptized. But at the time of my surgery, my father, Sonny Deva, was still a Hindu.
“Do Not Be Anxious Over Anything”
The words recorded at Philippians 4:6, 7 have been a great help to me, especially after I was diagnosed with a large brain tumor. Those verses say: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” It is difficult not to be “anxious over anything,” especially if you are told that you are facing death at any time. At first, I just cried, and then I prayed to Jehovah. From that time on, I experienced “the peace of God that excels all thought.”
Jehovah God took hold of my right hand, as it were, and I truly felt that he led me all the way. (Isaiah 41:13) He helped me to explain boldly to the medical personnel my determination to obey the Bible’s command to abstain from blood. (Acts 15:28, 29) As a result, the surgeon and an anesthetist agreed to perform the operation without blood transfusion. Afterward, the surgeon explained that the operation was successful and that the entire tumor had been removed. He also said that he had not previously seen a patient recover so rapidly after such major brain surgery.
Three weeks later I conducted a Bible study from my bed. At the end of the seventh week, I began driving again, went out in the preaching work, and resumed attending meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I appreciated the assistance of my Christian brothers and sisters who worked along with me in the evangelizing work. They made sure that I was never alone and that I got back home safely. I believe that listening to audio recordings of the Bible and focusing on the spiritual aspects of my life assisted in my rapid recovery.
I was also happy to learn that following my surgery, my dad agreed to a Bible study with the Witnesses. At the age of 73, he was baptized, and he is now serving Jehovah zealously. Over 40 members of my extended family are now united with us in worshipping Jehovah. Although my left visual fields have been damaged and my skull is held together by metal, I look forward to the time when Jehovah will make “all things new” in the coming earthly Paradise.
I am blessed with a loving husband, who serves as a Christian overseer, and a beautiful daughter, Clerista, who is a support to me as I continue to serve as a full-time evangelizer. Jehovah God has richly blessed my ministry. Thus far, I have been able to help many of my Bible students to experience the power of God’s Word in their lives. Over 30 of them are now dedicated to God and baptized.
With a heart full of hope, I look forward to the time when Jehovah God will deliver us from this painful system of things and lead us into an earthly paradise.
^ par. 12 For more information on God’s purpose for the earth, see chapter 3 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
^ par. 13 Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses but now out of print.