04/07/2024, 11.11
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'He appeared in my life seven years ago, at Easter he brought me home'

by Jonali Buragohain

From India, the testimony of a woman who recently received Baptism together with her husband and son: "Jesus came into my life on a dark night in Africa. Then for years, He led me, guided me, taught me and brought me back to His fold every time I strayed. His way is the best way".

Throughout the world for many new Christians Easter marks the moment of their Baptism, the culmination of an encounter with Jesus that takes place through very different forms, faces and times. From India we publish this story by Jonali Buragohain, a 52-year-old woman who on Sunday received the sacrament of Christian initiation together with her husband Ipshit Gohain and their son Jai, at the end of a long journey that began in a unique way in Africa.   

It was a dark night of the soul for me, when about seven years old the Lord Jesus reached out his hand to me, then a practicing Hindu girl. I was slumped on the floor, from mental, emotional and physical exhaustion, without seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, when the Light entered my life. And ever since, this Light has guided me through the ups and downs of my life.

It happened on a depressing night in Tanga, a small, sleepy town in Tanzania, East Africa, when the lowest and highest points of my life merged to create a beautiful blend of belonging and longing. The Light entered through the cracks of my heart and soul, and for the first time, I felt a sense of belonging to the one God and a deep desire to seek Him more.

Yes, that day the Lord Jesus touched me and this encounter turned my life upside down. I didn't know that my life would never be the same again. I changed that night! And, over time, my little family, made up of my husband and my son, also changed. He entered our little world, illuminated it so that we could see every small or large imperfection and guided us to repair these things to bring harmony back into our lives.

He called me "daughter"

Going back to that night, as I was slumped on the floor and couldn't see any hope, I heard a voice say to me, "Daughter, give me your hand and I will lift you up." It was strangely comforting. The same night I dreamed of three men in long, flowing white robes walking on a country path. That dream became recurrent and every time I was left with a new sensation: I wanted to see their faces, because in the dream I always saw them from behind.

The dream of Emmaus becomes reality

We soon left Tanzania and went to Ethiopia, where my husband found a new job. My husband, Ipshit, had preceded us and rented a house. When I entered that house, I saw a framed picture on the living room wall that left me amazed. I continued to stare at her.

The landlady, Majha, an Ethiopian Catholic lady, asked me: “What drives you to stare at this image? Do you know who they are?". He was referring to the three men in flowing white robes walking in the middle of the countryside. They were the three men I saw in a dream when I was in Tanga. Majha continued: "It is Jesus after his resurrection with his two disciples who were going to Emmaus."

That word slowly imprinted itself on my mind: Jesus. It was He who was holding out His hand to me. This awareness brought a sense of peace: knowing who will save me, who is my savior.

But there was still a void. I didn't know how to get to him. How to communicate with Him.

Call to the rosary

A few days later, a Hindu friend from New Delhi, Daisy, called me. "Jona, can you get me a rosary from Ethiopia? I've heard it's very powerful. You can find it in churches."

I didn't know what a rosary was. So I asked my husband to go to church and get me one. He took two. One for me too. And also a square candle with the image of the Madonna. Looking at the candle and the Madonna, I wanted to pray. I Googled how to pray with the rosary and printed out the prayers.

I lit the candle, knelt on the floor and began to pray. Seeing me praying, our son Jai (then 4 years old) also knelt down next to me and took the other rosary.

A Bible appears

Around that time, one day the landlady Majha came to me and said, "Can I give you a book to read? I have a strong desire to give it to you."

"Of course – I replied – I love reading".

The book was "The Shack" by William P. Young. When I started reading it, I was sucked into a completely different world, a world where I clearly understood what "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" really meant. Suddenly, everything was crystal clear.

Around the same time, while emptying one of my husband's bags, I found a small blue Bible. I asked him for explanations. He replied vaguely: "I didn't realize he was still there. A few years ago, a boy approached me on the street and, handing me the Bible, he ran away and disappeared."

It was the New Testament. I started reading it and, thanks to my little knowledge on the book "The Shack", I understood.

Every word intrigued me. I couldn't stop. I began to thirst to know more. Whatever Jesus said I found in my life. For the first time, I found meaning in my suffering and I began to feel ashamed of all the times I complained about it. “What is my suffering compared to that of Jesus? Yet I complain”, I said to myself.

My mother is dying

From Assam, India, came the call that my mother was dying and that I had to return immediately if I wanted to meet her for the last time. I rushed there with my son. My mother didn't recognize us. She was in a semi-comatose state, with impaired consciousness. She had stage four cancer. It had spread and the doctors had given her a maximum of three months to live.

From her first day, my son and I started praying the rosary next to her. I noticed that when we prayed, her face looked serene. So, we prayed the rosary next to her every day and her face seemed more serene. Until one day she opened her eyes. Another managed to move his limbs. She slowly started eating again and then even sitting alone on the hospital bed, recognizing us and talking to us.

One day, as we lit the candle and began to pray the rosary, Mammy slowly bowed her head and folded her hand in silent prayer. She looked so peaceful!

The cancer is gone

A month passed and we took her for a Pet Scan, as recommended by the doctors who were treating her. That same evening, my sister-in-law Amee and I received a phone call from the head oncologist. Her voice sounded unusually excited. "Come to the hospital immediately!"

We rushed to her room. She had the report with her, staring at us intensely, she uttered these unforgettable words: "The cancer is gone. It's gone. I don't know what happened, but it's a miracle!".

I knew it. It was truly a miracle. The Lord Jesus healed my mother through the intercession of Mother Mary.

My husband has changed too

It was just the first of a series of miracles that have since occurred in our lives. My husband, who was not in favor of our son's baptism, has today become the most ardent follower of Jesus. He cries at the mere mention of his name. He told me: "You will not be baptized alone. Jai (our son) and I will also be baptized with you."

He packed up all the images of Hindu gods and goddesses and disposed of them. He reads the Bible every day and still cries. He recites the rosary every day and is moved: he is the most devoted worshiper of the Lord in our family.

We were baptized

This Easter, all three of us were baptized at our local parish, Our Lady of Fatima, in Majiwada, Thane, Maharashtra, after completing the one-year catechumenate at St. John the Baptist Church. Even on the day of the baptism, my husband wouldn't stop crying.

I felt a deep peace inside me: I feel like I'm finally home. In all these seven years since my first encounter with Him, Jesus has led me, guided me, taught me and brought me back to His fold every time I strayed. He never let me go.

Yes, he made sure not to lose even one of the sheep that his Father had entrusted to him. I walked away many times, and yet, I recognized his voice every time he called my name. So I kept coming back. And He welcomed me with open arms every time.

It took many years of struggle and trials. But I'm happy to have entered through the narrow door. He was preparing me all this time. And when He thought I was ready, so was He. It all happened on his time, not mine. His way is the best. Praise be to the Lord!

(Nirmala Carvalho collaborated)

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”