Not often in my life have I experienced such a heavy heart of despair and frustration to the utmost as in the last few days. Over the last seven or so years Loren and I have had a special relationship with a young village girl named Rupali. Upon the first meeting we could see that she had special characteristics that needed to be nurtured, so as we continued to encourage Dr. Suresh and his wife Nupi to discover the hidden qualities and invest in her, we saw unbelievable progress. Her father was dead, but with love and concern Dr. Suresh was able to break through about ten layers of tradition at once as soon as her Hindu mother allowed a small house church to begin on their veranda. Even at that time I think Rupali was only a Seeker, but eventually she made a real confession of faith.
RUPALI IN RED
Sewing classes were begun and Rupali started a pre-school on that same veranda Then out of the blue we were notified that Rupali’s mother died, leaving her a complete orphan. She did have a married sister and older brother. Now what to do? She could not stay in the family home alone, so was carted off to live with an aunt in a nearby village. No one wants an extra mouth to feed, so the family tried immediately to marry her off. She ran away and for months no one knew where she was. Then one day crying she arrived on Dr. Suresh and Nupi’s doorstep.
Quickly, they were able to enroll her in a Bible School, so for one year she was safe from the cultural pressures for marriage. Last year we visited her and the orphanage next to her Aunt’s home. Instinctively we knew there was a problem, but because the Aunt would not leave us alone in the home with her, no questioning could occur.
This year Dr. Suresh said he had stopped by the old family home and the villagers said that Rupali was getting married. Multiply times he tried to contact her by phone with no success. So on our way back to campus from our village tour we just showed up at her Aunt’s home. As we walked up to the front of the home, Rupali came out, and she was wearing the wedding necklace. I said, “What is this? When did you get married?” With tears welling up, she replied, “February 6th.” I knew if I hugged her the way I usually did she would lose all control. “I was here and you didn’t invited me?” No answer came.
Again, we were not allowed to be alone with her, so made it very short visit. Through eye signals with Nupi I asked to use the toilet giving Nupi an opportunity to learn a few details. The married sister had threatened to throw kerosene on herself and commit suicide if Rupali didn’t marry this man. He is about 20 years older than Rupali and bald. (Hair is more important in India than in the USA.) You could tell that she had already been beat and is very unhappy, but what can she do?
I could no longer stay. With tears running down my cheeks and a broken heart ran out to the car “What could I have done to save her from this life?”
Many of the RGI girls will face this same situation. We cannot rescue them all, but pray for guidance and wisdom to combat tradition in these circumstances.
Oswald Chambers says,
“There are experiences like this in each of our lives. We are in despair; the despair comes from actualities—Jesus says, “Arise and do the next thing.” Never let the sense of failure corrupt your new action.”
Her new home is 48-hour distances by train and bus from Nagpur, almost to Darjeeling. Our prayer is that God’s masterpiece will be to use her in a miraculous way and maybe, just maybe, lead a whole new flock to Jesus in her new home.
REMEMBER THIS FACE AND PRAY FOR RUPALI AND HER WALK WITH THE LORD.