Tag Archives: India

Headhunting Konyaks are now 90% Christian

To chop off an enemy’s head and carry it back to the village to be put on display was a great honor for the Konyaks, a tribal people on the Northeastern edge of India.

“I marked my enemy like a sniper,” says Wangloi Wangshu on a National Geographic video. “And when I got him, I chopped their heads off with a knife. If I happened upon an enemy, it didn’t matter if it was man, woman or child, I chopped the head off.”

“We used to compete with each other. We said, ‘This one is mine!’” Hongo Konyak says. “The person who took the head gained power in the community.”

Once a Konyak scored a kill, he got a tattoo on his face. It was a rite of passage, says Aloh Wang, chieftain of the Shengha Chingnyu tribe. “In those days, killing each other was part of the education.”

Today, the Konyak are no longer headhunters. They’ve left behind their ancient warfare and converted to Christianity, the last of the tribes to do so in the region. About 90% adhere to the teachings of Christ.

At a time when secular thinkers find it offensive to describe native people as “savages,” the Konyak are a reminder that the term was less offensive than the customs that gave rise to the term.

“When the Christian missionary came to the Konyak tribes, some people said they weren’t going to accept the religion,” says Wanton Kano, a Konyak pastor in the village of Lungwa. Read the rest: Headhunters come to Christ

‘Untouchable’ touched by God

How dare Kumar Swamy, born an “untouchable” in India, carelessly bump into a Brahmin playing cricket on the street one day in his village in India? It was only an accident, but the upper caste boy was incensed.

“You dirty Dalit (untouchable) dog!” he says on a 100Huntley video. “I became very mad. I had the cricket bat in my hand. It’s like your baseball bat, thick and hard. I took it and gave him a whack.”

According to Hinduism, the Dalit must be careful to never “contaminate” an upper caste. Immediately, people started to gather and formed an angry mob of about 100. Stirred and restive, the people ultimately forced Kumar’s family to leave the village forever.

“My mom was constantly telling us we were untouchables,” he says. “Oftentimes she would use the words, ‘we are sub-humans’ — not really human beings. You can imagine how I would feel like a child, constantly hearing it from my parents, my mom, telling me that we are not real human beings.”

The ‘untouchables’ or dalit are born in the bottom of society and can never leave. Frequently, the untouchables perform the most menial of jobs, such as cleaning sewers, for a pittance. But Kumar’s dad made good money as a witch doctor. He talked to spirits, cast and broke spells and was highly sought after because of the dark arts.

“You could imagine how totally my family was under the clutches of the evil spirits,” he says. “It was an oppressive, grim, gloomy reality of my childhood.”

Kumar was 11 years old when he struck the Brahmin boy with a cricket bat. Usually, he played only with other untouchables, but sometimes they played with others.

“He was hurt, he was bleeding and there was a big commotion in the village,” he says. “Nearly 100 of his relatives came from nowhere within no time and they just held me guilty.”

It was probably a good thing that they didn’t kill Kumar. Instead, they exiled him.

“We packed what little stuff we had and just left the village to another village, where the Dalits were predominantly gathering,” he says. “That left a very deep wound in my heart.”

With the move, his father lost work and they suffered scarcity. Kumar asked himself many searching questions.

“Why did God create me as a Dalit, as untouchable, as a sub-human?” he said. “We were praying to all these millions of Hindu gods — and no answer. So, as you can imagine, I was left a very depressed, disillusioned, young man seeking for hope in my life, seeking for reality.” Read the rest: Untouchable touched by Jesus.

Burned by gossip, a Hindu asked God for help

With the exception of her husband who was Christian, Deepa Srinivas disdained Christians in her native area of Andhra Pradesh, India.

“Back in my village, even today, Christianity is treated very low,” Deepa says on a 100Huntley video. “During those days, I never liked to get connected to Christians or Christianity.”

That’s why she performed endless rituals to the Hindu pantheon worshiped by her family.

“My family is from a strong Hindu religion background with traditions, a lot of traditions,” she says. “My parents would be into a lot of idol worship. I used to think if I perform rituals, something good would happen to me and my family. Wherever I used to see a tree, I used to bow down to it and pray, even if it is on a road.”

While she married a Christian man, she never intended to adopt his religion.

God surprised her, however, with several miraculous incidents. One was a girl who spread rumors about her.

Deepa had tried to help her. This girl was a beautician but needed clients, so Deepa connected her with some contacts.

Biting the hand that fed her, the beautician spread a rumor about Deepa, causing her to lose all her friends.

“I was left all alone” Deepa says. “I was really upset, and I was not really happy with that girl at that point of time.”

Because she interacted with churches due to her husband, a pastor called her randomly one day and prophetically asked her if she was experiencing anxiety

“I was surprised and asked God, ‘Can God speak to someone about me?’” she says.

Taken aback by the insight into her heart, she shared her disillusionment.

The pastor responded: “If you love someone who loves you, then there is no point. Anyone can do that. But if you love someone who does not love you, then that is commendable in the sight of God.”

“I was shocked,” she admits.

The truth of scripture conflicted with everything she had known from Hinduism and Indian culture.

“Then I thought, ‘OK, Lord, I don’t know much about you. Whoever has hurt me and caused this grief to me, that girl should come and apologize the next day at 6:00 a.m.”

Guess who showed up bright and early “knocking at my door at six a.m.?” Deepa asks.

“She apologized.” Read the rest: Deepa Srinivas found Jesus after serving Hinduism.

No family, begging on a street corner, a pickpocket found Jesus in India

Sayeed Badshah doesn’t know his birthday, his mother’s name, his father’s name or where he was born.

The last thing he remembers, when he was 3, his mother tried to run away, and the alcoholic father caught them in their flight and beat his mother to death. His two older sisters took him to Mumbai, where he was separated from them.

An Indian constable brought him to an orphanage, where he was abused both physically and sexually until age 7.

“At the age when children are supposed to play with their toys, I went through things that I can’t even describe,” Sayeed says on a Your Living Manna video. “That brought a lot of hatred in my life.”

He ran away and asked for a job everywhere. Nobody took him seriously, until he got a washer job. When he got fired from that, he resorted to begging at stop lights and in the trains. With his only T-shirt, he would sweep the inside of the passenger train and then pass through the crowd asking for a handout.

“That became my life,” he says. “Many a time I would not get even one single meal all day long. I used to wait outside the restaurant for people to throw away their food. I used to fight with dogs and grab food from their mouths.”

Baths were twice a year. He didn’t have a change of clothes.

“My body used to smell,” he says. “Nobody would come close to me.”

Born a Muslim, he went to the mosque and prayed “with all my heart thinking that Allah would give me love, that Allah would save me,” he says. “But I was wrong. Allah did not save me.”

He tried the Hindu temple and prayed. Likewise, no one answered.

A friend said that anything you believe in is god. So he erected a small temple to a stone next to the traffic light where he begged.

“I began to worship that stone every day and put flowers and everything on that stone,” he says. “I was thinking something would happen, but nothing happened. So I kicked the stone and said, ‘There is no god.’” Read Sayeed Badshah, pickpocket from India comes to Christ

Erez Soref thought he was the only Jew who came to know Jesus

erez sorefErez Soref discovered spiritual reality on a trip to India as he conversed with Buddhists and Hindus.

Then he stumbled on a Christian group in Amsterdam that challenged him to read Messianic prophecies and compare them to their fulfillment in the New Testament.

“The best kept secret among the Jewish people,” says the president of One For Israel videos.

Erez Soref’s dad was a Sephardic Jew and his mom was of Babylonian Jewish descent. Going to synagogue seemed boring to him as a kid. The history of the Jewish people from thousands of years ago seemed to have little current relevance.

“God was very, very far away,” he says.

All through K-12, he studied the Old Testament for its historical and literary value only.

“It was something one needs to know being Jewish but not the Word of God,” he says.

Like many young Israelis, he traveled the world and landed on the “Mysticism Trail” — which is simultaneously the “Drug Trail” — in India, where he was exposed to Hindu and Buddhist scriptures.

“I got to understand there is a spiritual reality,” he says. “That spiritual reality was very scary, very negative, very dark, but it was very real.”

Erez_Soref_1_600_400_s_c1In Amsterdam, Erez fell in with some young vibrant Christians.

“I’m Jewish,” he told them right from the start. “We don’t believe in Jesus.”

“Why?” they responded. “Jesus is Jewish.”

“I’m not sure why, but I’m SURE we don’t believe in Jesus,” he answered.

Nevertheless a seed of inquiry began to germinate in his heart.

He was struck by their enthusiastic faith. The way they called it a “personal relationship with God” seemed totally foreign to him.

“What was even more shocking than that was that some of them were familiar with passages in the Hebrew Scriptures that I wasn’t ever well familiar with,” he says.

His new friends called them “prophetic” or “Messianic” passages.

“I was amazed. How do you guys know these passages? This is ours!” he says.

He referenced his own Bible in Hebrew and verified that the Messianic passages were legit.

Then he cajoled himself into peeking into the New Testament. He had already read Buddhist and Hindu literature, so what could be wrong with reading the Christian writings?

“I was very surprised. First of all it took place in Israel and places I’ve been to many many times,” he says. “Growing up in Israel, I never ever heard anything about Jesus of Nazareth.”

“Jesus is the best-kept secret among the Jews,” he says. It seemed incomprehensible that he hadn’t learned a thing about Jesus when his family lived near the Sea of Galilee.

“I was very drawn to Yeshua,” he recounts. “He did not do things to try to win men’s favor.” Read more about the best kept secret of the Jews.

Heart-warming and humorous, ‘Growing Up Smith’ provides food for thought about values

GOB_04“Growing Up Smith” is captivating love story about an 10-year-old Indian boy whose parents want to hold on to Old Country values and not become corrupted by the evil customs of American.

Dad wants “Smith” to become a well-to-do neurosurgeon. He wants his son to fit into America, hence he chooses a very American name for him (without realizing it’s a last name). But he also wants his son to conserve the religion and traditions from India. His marriage is arranged from childhood to an Indian girl the boy has never met.

growing up smithSmith, however, gets a crush on a classmate, Amy, who lives across the street.

And therein arises the jeopardy. The movie provides moments of humor, elation and sadness. While it’s not a tool for evangelism, its feel-good content about role models, loyalty and overcoming obstacles provides ample fodder for family values.

In one scene, Smith is made to pray to the Hindu gods for his disobedience — to each and every one individually (maybe just the major “gods”). “For the first time in my life, I realized the value of having just one god,” he thinks.

I never thought of that advantage, but as a Christian I heartily agree.

GrowingUpSmith_midrollWhile the basis for the movie is immigration, it sidesteps all of the controversies raging through current politics. The plot is based in 1979 in upstate New York. The father studied to become a CPA and does very well economically. To his dismay, his kids begin to adopt American customs. Smith wants to be Darth Vader for Halloween, but Dad hears “Dr. Vader.”

barbque.jpgOne of the difficulties facing immigrants are those moments when conversation gets lost in translation. “Butch,” the across-the-street good-ole-boy neighbor, invites Smith to join him doing some “big game hunting.” The father — a strict vegetarian who would never kill an animal — only understands that there is going to be some sort of “game.” Being the typical patriarchal male, dad allows Smith to accompany Butch, overruling his wife’s objections. She has a better understanding of English, but he won’t listen to her.

After a couple hours, the father happens to see a cartoon in which a hunt takes place and realizes what “big game hunting” means. He and his wife frantically drive the family station wagon around the countryside looking for their son, hoping to avert “disaster.”

Meanwhile, Smith shoots a squirrel.

As he picks up his prize, he wonders if what he has done is evil or amoral. Read the rest about Growing Up Smith.

Korn’s Brian Welch goes from metal star to Jesus freak

brian-head-welchBrian “Head” Welch shocked the rock world in 2005 when he left the band, Korn, and jettisoned his adoring fans, along with a lifestyle that included girls, drugs and an embarrassment of riches.

“All I know is that I was chasing all that stuff and it left me empty,” Welch told the Christian Post. “And I was a complete empty shell – just totally like nothing inside. I had everything. I had the money; there was girls everywhere, all the drugs – pills, doctors’ prescriptions, illegal drugs, everything. And it was just empty, so empty.”

welch-and-daughter

I

God surprised Welch when he ventured into a church. “And as soon as I went to church, I felt the love from Jesus. That’s when I was fully satisfied. And I was totally done with everything in the world because I was satisfied inside, and I got filled up.”

Welch, a talented guitarist who enthralled fans with his “nu rock” licks, needed to break his drug addiction and wanted to nurture his newfound faith in Christ, as well as dedicate more time to his family.

He cleaned up his act and launched a solo career with his debut album Save Me from Myself.

brian-welch-india

In India.

Korn was formed when the group “L.A.P.D.” broke up after they lost their lead singer. The remaining musicians Reginald Arvizu, James Shaffer, and David Silveria recruited Welch and Sexart vocalist Jonathan Davis, who acceded to join only after he consulted with a psychic. With the new members, they re-branded themselves “Korn.”

“It sounded kinda creepy because it reminded us of that horror movie Children of the Corn,” the Stephen King horror story, Welch said.

Starting with Korn’s self-titled debut, and preceding albums such as Life Is Peachy and Follow The Leader, the band became one of the best-selling nu metal groups of all time, selling out arenas and earning $25 million in royalty payments.

But as they ascended charts and the finances flowed, each of the members suffered personal battles with addiction, according to Welch.

“We were only sober for just a couple of hours a day in Korn — every day,” Welch recounted. “And then when you come home and you’ve got to deal with real life and your wife isn’t having that, crap goes down.”

korn-bandBy 2003, Welch was addicted to meth, Xanax, sleeping pills and alcohol. He would prep for tours by stashing as much meth as he could in vitamin capsules, deodorant containers, and his clothes. His dreams of stardom had come true, but he no longer enjoyed touring.

“I got hooked on methamphetamines the last two years I was in Korn, and I did meth everyday,” he wrote later in his book Save Me from Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs, and Lived to Tell My Story. “I wanted to quit, but I couldn’t quit. I tried to quit. I went to rehab, and I just couldn’t quit.”

Both he and his wife, Rebekah Landis, were drug addicts. They had violent fights. The night after he rocked 200,000 fans at Woodstock in 1999, he punched his wife in the face. Blood sprayed out, and she passed out on the bathroom floor.

As he looked at blood running down his knuckles, Welch questioned why his vaunted stardom had failed to bring happiness. Read the rest of Brian’s testimony.

This frail nurse helped Gen. Stilwell’s group march 140 miles to escape Burma during WW2

General_Stilwell_marches_out_of_Burma

Gen. Joe Stilwell’s storied retreat out of Burma.

With the monsoon ahead and the Japanese in pursuit behind, Lt. General Joe Stilwell trekked 140 miles through steamy jungles and over 7,500-foot mountain ridges to escape an overrun Burma during World War 2.

His party of 117 carried money and Tommy guns, but their secret weapon was the singing voices of Than Shwe and 18 other Burmese nurses. Despite battling tuberculosis, Than Shwe, a devout Christian, led the hardy ladies in “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” to boost morale in the flagging marchers.

“All the way on the retreat we were singing. ‘Sing, girls, sing,’ Uncle Joe would say,” said Than Shwe, as quoted in Stars and Stripes.

with seagrave

Than Shwe with Dr. Gordon Seagrave

She was still teaching English in Lashio, Myanmar, at 89 years of age when she was interviewed two years ago. Although she shares the name with the ex-dictator of Myanmar (Burma’s new name), Than Shwe has nothing else in common with the repressive military general who handed leadership over only recently.

Than Shwe is remembered for being peppy and cracking jokes. She was hardworking lady who offered her services as a nurse during World War 2 despite fighting her own battles against TB.

Stilwell’s retreat on foot out of Burma in May 1942 is the stuff of legends among history buffs. The no-nonsense general who wore no military insignia to show solidarity with his troops was charged with the Allies’ China-Burma-India theater. He sent much of his staff out on planes but refused the luxury and security for himself. Instead, he led the on-foot retreat personally.  “I prefer to walk,” he said.

than shwe at 89

Than Shwe at 89 two years ago teaching English in Lashio. Photo: Stars and Stripes

When Stilwell – known to his soldiers as “Vinegar Joe” for his acid personality – found his forces disintegrating, he was obliged to retreat. On May 6 leaving Indaw, the group headed west into the impenetrable jungle, tramping a minimum 14 miles a day through mud and zig-zagging up and down switchbacks to India.

“The jungle was everywhere,” wrote Donovan Webster in The Burma Road. “Its vines grabbed their ankles as they walked. Its steamy heat sapped their strength. And every time they reached the summit of yet another six-thousand-foot mountain, they could only stare across the quilted green rain forest below and let their gazes lift slowly toward the horizon. Ahead of them, looming in the distance, they could finally see the next hogback ridge between them and safety. They would, of course, have to climb over that one, too.”

than shwe

Than Shwe as a young nurse in World War 2

Stilwell was committed to assuring that every member of his party – Americans, English, Indians, Chinese and Burmese – escaped alive. Japanese troops, trying to cut off Chiang Kai-Sheck’s supply line through Burma, were chasing him from the South, the East and the Northeast.

“By the time we get out of here, many of you will hate my guts,” Stilwell said. “But I’ll tell you one thing: You’ll get out.”

The nurses looked frail, hardly apt for such a rigorous journey, and Stilwell urged anyone incapable of completing such an arduous journey to stay behind and seek refuge in town. But instead of slowing up the group, the gospel singing nurses turned out to the godsend, constantly injecting enthusiasm with their lively songs. Follow the rest of the march.