Far from her family and friends in India and alone in the house one night, Divya Gunga Din spoke to no one in particular. She asked the all-important question which had troubled her of late.
Having grown up in eastern India, Divya had been taught in the Hindu culture that there are many gods, and she always acknowledged them. However a whisper deep inside her heart kept prompting her—there is only one true God. She yearned to know which god He might be.
“As a child,” Divya recalls, “I attended a boarding school run by nuns. I adopted their Jesus as one more god among many (Hindus have thousands of deities) and I loved this Jesus also. I used to give all my candy money to Him in the offering plate. The candy man visited our school grounds every day. He always saved a treat for me, regardless of my lack of money to pay,” said Divya. She didn't know then that she was receiving the harvest from her offering to the Lord.
Divya matured into an intelligent and beautiful woman with a desire to help her people, so she studied to become a physician. She met her future husband, Ravi, in Osmania Medical College, a premier college in Hyberdad, India. After Ravi graduated and moved to the United States, he began writing letters to her, asking her to become his wife. Eventually, she agreed.
The couple settled in Rockport, Illinois where Ravi practiced radiology, soon establishing a respected position in the city's hospitals. Divya stayed home to care for their three young daughters. With Ravi earning a good income and life filled with all the comforts of the American culture, Divya should have been happy. However, she found herself in a difficult marriage. Their beautiful home seemed empty of tenderness, love, and at times even simple respect. Driven by anguish, she often took refuge in a lower room, a meditation and prayer closet where she kept statues of Hindu gods and goddesses. There she would pour out her heart, pleading for intervention. Nothing ever changed.
“My plants were my only friends,” she said of those lonely days.
One night, aching with longing for a deeper and more meaningful life, Divya walked through the house and from the anguish of her heart, simply cried aloud, “I want to know the one true god!”
At once, whether audibly or deep inside her spirit, she heard a majestic and awe-inspiring voice sweep through her.
The voice said, “I am the Lord thy God, worship me.”
Startled and somewhat fearful, she went to bed. The next morning, still filled with wonder, Divya ran down the stairs to her meditation room.
What she found there further surprised her. All the idols and statuettes of Hindu gods had fallen to the floor. Only the cross of Christ remained upright. The idols lay face-down on the floor toward the symbol of Jesus' sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Divya had found the answer.
She began to read the Bible, visit church, and attend a women's Bible study in my home where she described the experience. Speaking in a heavy eastern accent, she said she had asked, “Who ees this Lard (Lord)? What ees the meaning of Lard?” after hearing the voice. We knew immediately that she had not imagined it, because she did not even know the word, Lord. However, she quickly accepted Christ as her Lard and Savior.
Divya's description of the statuettes fallen face down before the cross made me think of First Samuel 5:4, where the idol Dagon fell face down before the ark of the covenant. The statue's head and hands had been cut off. By whom? Clearly by an angel. Had the same angel visited Divya's meditation room?
Every week at Bible study, we heard delightful stories of how Jesus answered Divya's prayers for protection, for healing, and for other supervention in her life. She glowed with peace and joy in her new found faith, and our group enjoyed watching her spiritual growth, even while her husband's skepticism continued to grow.
Then one evening, Divya described a disturbing dream, which left her trembling with fear. She told the women in our group, “I saw two tall peelars (pillars) surrounded with clouds of thick black smoke. I knew it meant something very bad, something terrible. I also saw an evil, demonic visage in the smoke.”
Divya was visibly shaken by the dream. The women in our group had no idea how to comfort her. We could not perceive any symbolic meaning in pillars surrounded by black clouds. The closest I could imagine was a scene from a movie about King Kong. Perhaps it was merely a dream and had no significance.
Not a few days later, we watched in horror as the TV images of the two World Trade Towers were surrounded by thick clouds of smoke on September 11, 2001. Two tall peelars. I received a CNN photo at the news office where I worked as a reporter. Plainly visible in the photo are the smoky features of what appears to be a demonic face. I brought the photo to show Divya. “Yes,” she said, her eyes widened, “That ees what I saw.”
I immediately thought of how the Lord promised to pour out His spirit on all flesh, Acts 2:17, and the sons and daughters would prophesy. Also the verse in Jeremiah 33: 3, “. . . I will show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Divya was a fulfillment of those verses, right before my eyes.
She is also the answer to the question: what about people who grow up in other religions? God is so willing to welcome all who honestly want to know Him, regardless of their race or cultural background. The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to every man, according to Titus 2:11. Every man and woman has the opportunity for salvation at some point in life.
Many years have passed since that group of precious women met in my Rockport home. I now live in Missouri, and I seldom hear from Divya. Still I will never forget how the Lord revealed Himself to her seeking heart.
He goes out of His way to seek and find the lost, not willing that any should perish.
This chapter is an excerpt from my soon-to-be published book of encounters with God contributed by 36 pastors, evangelists, doctors, missionaries, and ordinary people.