By BosNewsLife Asia Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos,
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)– A young widow who was jailed in India for her evangelistic activities has died of a heart attack, BosNewsLife learned Friday, March 27.
Vani, 31, was reportedly detained early last year on what her supporters viewed as trumped up charges of “kidnapping a teenage girl” and “forcing” her to convert to Christianity.
The 15-day jail sentence was seen as part of wider efforts by local authorities in India to halt conversions in this mainly Hindu nation.
Vani’s troubles began after she noticed a troubled young teenage girl at a bus stop while travelling home from church. The 15-year-old girl, identified as Kusuma, was reportedly depressed amid tensions with her parents and relatives.
After Vani spoke about her faith in Jesus Christ, Kusuma decided to go to Vani’s house to learn more and stay their for the night.
RECEIVING CHURCH INVITATION
The next morning, Vani invited her to church where she was introduced to two other women who spoke about Christ with her, according to Christians familiar with the case.
After Kusuma returned home, her parents radical Hindus filed “a false complaint with police”, claiming the women were “kidnapping” children and “forcing” them to convert to Christianity, Christians said.
While in prison, Vani continued to talk about her faith in Jesus Christ and several inmates and a guard became Christians, friends recalled.
“Vani reached out with the love of Jesus to more than 70 women –14 of whom became believers,” said advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs, which supported Vani, who only used one name.
“Even the jailer encouraged her to continue with this outreach after witnessing a dramatic change in the lives of several prisoners who accepted Christ.”
PRAYING FOR POLICE
She prayed for them and police officers, friends said. One guard who came to faith in Jesus Christ invited Vani to her house for prayer.
“Everything that happened this year…is good because it is taking me very near to my God,” Vani recalled recently.
VOM said it is currently assessing how to best assist Vani’s 8-year-old daughter following the sudden death of her “God-honouring mother”.
“While we certainly join with those now mourning the recent loss of Vani, let us also thank God for the incredible impact this dear woman has made on the lives of both believers and those who have yet to know Jesus,” the group said, adding that it had urged prayers for her daughter.
Christians said Vani’s life reminded them to Apostle Paul’s words in Bible verse Philippians 1: 12-13: “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ.”