When Hannah Endured
In a small church with sky blue walls is a woman with gold, heart-shaped earrings. Her wavy hair is collected in a bun and her cheeks are patterned with beige streaks of sunscreen. She sits on the floor with men and women singing praise — glory, hallelujah— oblivious to their surroundings, voices bouncing off the walls, their ears lent only to the mellow strumming of their pastor’s acoustic guitar.
Long before she gave her life to Christ, the woman would wake up before light and prepare meals for the crimson-robed monks who would regularly pass by her doorstep. Her family practiced Hinduism too. This woman comes from a long line of mixed devotees, her parents being the most steadfast of them all.
Her name is Hannah. And in the small church with sky blue walls, fourteen years after she came to Christ, she raises her hands and sings to the Lord.
A Place for Christ
Hannah says it was through a song that she received Jesus Christ. The year was 2001. A Chin lady, whom she had met at school, befriended her and invited her to come to church. Hannah didn’t want to go at first, but around Christmas she began to feel sorry for the persistent lady and gave in to her invitation.
Hannah knew she was treading dangerous ground. It was dangerous and different. The decision to attend church would not go over well with her pious parents, but all her worries slipped away when she heard the choir’s Christmas melodies ringing from the windows. She savored the tune, listened to its truth, and gave her whole heart for Jesus to fill.
Everything was different when Hannah got home. She headed straight for the images of Buddha in her house and removed them from the premises. “They are not alive,” she says, “Jesus is alive. I no longer wanted to worship them.”
The Cost for Christ
Hannah was changed. After she prayed for Jesus to fill her life, she became thirsty for the Living Water. Hannah came to church not only for worship service on Sundays but on Wednesdays to attend the prayer fellowship and on Saturdays to help with the youth. She did all this in secret. Or at least she tried. But her sister told their mother about her activities, and Hannah soon learned the cost of following Christ.
Hannah was beaten by her own mother for her faith. The first time was from her neck to her waist. Japanese style, Hannah called it. Japanese style meant karate chops on her back struck with all the force her mother could muster. Japanese style meant scratches planted on her flesh by the same hands that rocked her when she was a child.
Two years she endured such persecution from both her parents and was betrayed by her sibling. Two years she spent looking over her shoulder to confirm that her church attendance wasn’t harming anyone else.
The Reward in Christ
It is 2015. Hannah’s mother is softer now. There are no more scratches and welts on Hannah’s back. Her mother even attended church at one point. She does not believe in Jesus yet, but she tries to understand her daughter’s faith.
Despite the suffering she has endured from her parents, Hannah chooses to forgive.
In the small church with sky blue walls, Hannah and ten others sit at the foot of the cross. They sing to the Lord with hands raised, heads bowed, and hearts bare, basking in the glory of God in their midst.
A few feet away from Hannah is a woman in a violet shirt. The woman is deep in prayer, tears pouring from her eyes, sweat rolling from her brow. She is Hannah’s sister – the same one whose whispers led to Hannah’s bruises long ago – and today on the church stage with knees planted on the floor, she declares: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.”