Esther Rani - a woman Jesus loves today!
Esther Rani was born into a Hindu family in India. She was a child when her parents died and losing both parents at a young age led her to disbelieve in the existence of any kind of god. She said she had no peace and she frequently thought of dying. But when she was ten, she met someone who led her to faith in Christ. Esther would often talk to Jesus, and his nearness greatly encouraged her. She eventually moved home to live with her two brothers. Unfortunately, they were unsupportive of her relationship with Christ and gave her much trouble.
When Esther finished the 10th grade, a pastor encouraged her to join a bible/missionary training program. This solved the problem of her brothers making life hard for her. After training, she and a team went to an area called Attappady in the state of Kerala. Attappady is a tribal belt in the Palakkad district of Kerala. It is very poor, and Esther did missionary work with a tribal people called Irulas. They are one of the oldest, indigenous Indian tribes. They make a living by working the fields of landowners and catching snakes and rats. The Irula people believe in the presence of spirits in humans and objects that causes them to live in fear of the spirits. Esther has worked with this group for the last 17 years, faithfully sharing Christ even though the rest of her team eventually left. She knew that she needed to stay despite facing horrible problems while living among the people.
Her health was one problem. Then, she married at age 42, very old by Indian standards. But her husband abandoned her. Now being single again brings many new challenges, yet despite the difficulties, she wants to remain a missionary for Christ and reach women with the gospel.
One of the biggest problems has been religious opposition from people who do not want her to reach out to the Irula people. Although the Irula people have soft and open hearts, others tell her that she is brainwashing them. They tell her that she has no permission to visit the villages and that converting people to a new religion is not allowed. They have not attacked her physically, but they often spread lies about her and gossip. She says, “The government regulations have become very strict, and it is hard to visit villages because of religious animosity, yet I reach out to women with friendship and conduct meetings for them whenever I get the opportunities."
God opened a new door for her during the Covid lockdown. She met the aunt of James Sankaran. James is a WGS worker in India who uses our storytelling program. The aunt introduced her to James, and he told her about the storytelling method of evangelism and discipleship. James and his family eventually visited Esther. He trained her in storytelling, and she now uses it to reach women for Christ. She said this method makes it easy to share the gospel with others, the listeners can understand the stories more easily than western-style sermons, and they can more easily pass on the stories to others.
Despite horrendous circumstances, sorrow, and pain, Esther has now found her new calling. Jesus showed up for her and was with her in the middle of her many storms. She is a brave, determined woman, living in a culture not her own among a people not her own, yet this woman continues to spread the gospel faithfully for the glory of God. She is a woman Jesus loves!
Esther reaches out to Irula women
like these pictured here.