Wesley Chatla of the Indian Christian Bethel Baptist Gospel Fellowship, Andhra Pradesh, South India, tells of the opportunity to share the gospel during a funeral for a predominantly Hindu family. He writes:
It was just 10 days ago I had an opportunity to do the funeral of one of our church members, a widow of age 73, who died with heart attack. She was the only lady in her family saved about nine years ago. She prayed and shared the gospel with her sons and daughters for many years, but no one got saved. But only one of her grandchildren, whom she raised, came to know the Lord and is very faithful in living for Him and growing in the Lord.
He shared the story with tears. It was very challenging for him to convince all of his family members to perform the funeral in a God-honoring way rather than in Hindu tradition, like burning and rituals. Though she told her immediate family members and relatives to let her funeral be done by God’s servants, they tried to call the Hindu priest. But her grandson opposed, and because of that he was ridiculed by his families. Finally he convinced them to do the funeral according to the Scriptures. It was a challenging time for me, but I shared the gospel to all the attendees at the funeral.
A challenging part also came when it was time to lift the casket with the body and walk to the burial ground. According to tradition, her sons and brothers would carry the casket by taking turns. As we were moving, one of her relatives asked me if they could put down the casket for a minute. I agreed. I asked if they were tired. Then they said, “No, we’re not tired, but it is our custom that we put down the casket and speak to her in her ears so that she could get up.” So, it is the custom for Hindus that before they reach the burial ground, they put down the casket three times and speak into her ears. I told them gently that we don’t believe in those customs. They listened and carried the casket all they way to burial ground.
Another challenging part came after we reached the burial ground. One of her relatives said they needed to go around the place three times where she was going to be buried. Again her grandson intervened and asked me if they could do that, but I said no again and read the Scripture and prayed at the burial ground.
Many Hindus who come to know the Lord are very much persecuted and ridiculed by their own family members. This woman’s grandson told me that he faced some challenges from his family members but that whatever comes his way from family members, he’s ready to face for the Lord. We praised God for His faithfulness in this man’s life and had an opportunity to share the gospel again in the memorial service.
Indian Christian Bethel Baptist Gospel Fellowship
Nidumolu, Andhra Pradesh, South India