Special note: This story is powerful but sensitive. Our heart is to share the reality of what is happening at our Center and ask you to pray. Thank you for journeying with us. God is so faithful.
Hema’s story is devastating, yet God miraculously intervened in her life. Her story exemplifies how well He loves the fatherless, and how He never leaves nor forsakes us.
Hema is a beautiful, 21 year old woman who has encountered heartache that is quite unfathomable. She had a mother, father, and older sister that she lived with in the leprosy colony. Ironically, none of them had leprosy. But it was the cheapest place for them to live, and it was through their connection to the colony that we came to know her. Hema and her sister often attended the Embrace a Village church.
The pressure of providing
Her father was the sole provider and struggled to provide, leading him to take out a loan to expand his milk packet and newspaper delivery service. Unfortunately, he could not pay it back, and this caused enormous problems for the family.
They were harassed and threatened by the loan sharks and were mercilessly ridiculed in their neighborhood, and embarrassed to leave their home. Her father’s business went from bad to worse, and most days there was no food on the table.
As you can imagine, the stress took a toll on her father’s mental state. He became very depressed and blamed himself. Sadly, this led him to make a dreadful decision. He convinced his family to enter into a suicide pact to escape the torment.
The family was devastated, but agreed that there was no way out. Even though Hema didn’t want to die, she didn’t know how else to escape their situation, so she agreed to go along with it.
The next morning around 3am, the family sat together, holding each other and crying for some time. The father gave them a banana stuffed with poison, and the mother and older sister ate it. When it was Hema’s turn to eat it, she refused, feeling confused, and knowing she wanted to live. She opened the door and ran to the neighbor’s house, and told them what her family had done.
Hema lost her loving family
Soon after, she was taken into custody by her aunty. She misses her family immensely. Her sister was more like a friend, and the grief is acute when she attends church alone.
Hema has informed the local police that she wants to live at the Embrace A Village Center, and told them that she finds peace, joy, and new meaning when she is with the patients and our staff. The police agreed, and she now lives at our Center full-time.
Leaning into Christ as her only strength
Hema is discovering more about our Lord Jesus Christ and trusting Him with her life. The verse from Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved,” is very much alive to her, especially in this season of such indescribable grief.
Hema wants to study nursing and is currently applying to school, and says that after she finishes, she believes her purpose is to serve the leprosy community. We are walking with her every step of the way. We believe that the Lord has plans for His children and that He will put them in the right places at the right time, and associate them with the right people. Through all this, He will establish Himself, and we will bring honor and glory to His name and Kingdom.
Thank you for journeying with us
I know today was a rough update, but I wanted to convey the magnitude of what Hema is walking through and ask you to pray. It breaks my heart in so many ways, and I am leaning into what God is doing and how we can partner with Him through it.
I find that it is through the joyous and grief-filled seasons, that we see how truly faithful and loving God is. Please continue to pray for sweet Hema. She is processing a lot, and we want to support and love her through this as best we can through God’s strength.
Thank you for walking with us through the hills and valleys. I am grateful for this community and your interest in our ministry. I appreciate you helping us raise awareness for leprosy whether that’s through sharing emails, sharing social media, or sharing with friends and family in person.
We are forever thankful for the opportunity we have to serve the beautiful people of India.
Joe, Anil, and Team EAV