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Sampathi lives in India. This is her story

I was born into a very religious family. We were important people. My father served in the temple near where we lived. All my family worshipped statues of many gods. We believed that followers of Jesus were our enemies. We thought we were doing the right thing when we hurt followers of Jesus or chased them away.

At school for a short time

When I was a child, I wanted to go to school, but our religion said that it was wrong for girls to learn in school. I begged my parents to let me. At last they allowed it, but I was not there for long. Soon my parents made me leave school and do women’s work at home.As I grew up, I felt that my life had no meaning. I followed my religion, but my life felt empty. I very much wanted to find peace and joy.

Forced to marry

At the age of 14, my parents forced me to marry. I soon had three children. My husband was very rich, but he was a very bad man. My life with him was so unhappy that I thought I had nothing to live for. I did not think that things could get worse . But they did. My husband was always greedy for more money. One day he argued with two men about some land. It was such a bad argument that, in the end, he killed both of the men. He was sent to prison for 14 years. With my husband in prison, I was left alone with three young children. Yes, things had got worse.

I heard a voice

Then, one day when I was walking in our city, I heard someone speaking through a megaphone. I thought I would go nearer to find out what was happening. Many people were standing around a man who was speaking into the megaphone. He was talking about Jesus Christ, saying how much he loves us but hates the things we do wrong. The man told us that God sent Jesus into the world to die. He explained how Jesus took the punishment for our wrong-doing (which we call sin). When we ask him, he forgives our sin. He takes away the shame we feel for the things we have one wrong. As I listened to what the speaker said, it was as though my eyes were opened for the first time. I cried as I realised that I had done and thought so many wrong things, but God still loved me. I turned away from the idols I had worshipped and became a follower of Jesus. I was overwhelmed with peace and joy for the very first time in my life.

Everything changed

I began going to meetings with other followers of Jesus, and reading the Bible, the Christians’ holy book. When they learned what had happened to me, my family and friends sent me away. My children and I had no food or shelter. But the followers of Jesus helped us. Now I have learned how to make clothes for women and children. I hope this will make some money for us to live on.God has truly changed our lives. It is not easy, but God is helping me and I thank him.