India woman uses illiteracy to spread gospel

Maharashtra, India

In a small village in Maharashtra, India, lives a 65-year-old woman named Praryagabai. She has never been to school and at the time, she didn't know how to read or write.

One day, local pastor Ashish Kharchan told Praryagabai the story about Jesus Christ. Upon hearing about Jesus, she became hungry to know more about Him.

Some Nazarene pastors followed up with her, telling her more about who Jesus is. Praryagabai started coming to Sunday worship services and to any other prayer meetings during the week that she could. As a result, she accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord, and shortly afterward, she was baptized.

Because of her decision to openly embrace Christ, she faced opposition from her family and her society. Praryagabai was constantly being persecuted, and some people stopped all communication with her.

“I have found the real God who is alive, and even if you trouble me or kill me for that, I don’t mind because I am already 65 years old,” Praryagabai said. “I have to die someday, and even if I die today, I don’t mind dying for Jesus Christ.”

Though she didn’t know how to read and write, and despite being very poor, she saved some money and purchased a copy of the Bible.

It wasn’t long after that the Bible was stolen from her. Devestated, Praryagabai was determined to bring the Scripture back into her home. So, she worked on a farm as a day laborer, saving the money to purchase another copy of the Bible.

After she purchased her new Bible, she came up with a plan to share it with others. She would go and sit under a tree near a road where students would pass on their way to school and back. While seated there, she would call one of the students passing by and ask them for help. 

“Would you kindly read this aloud for me, please?” Praryagabai said. “I will give you two rupees.”

While the student read the Bible to her, expecting to earn their two rupees, several other students gathered around them to listen to what was being read.

Praryagabai did this every day, and thanks to the promised payment, the students would eagerly help her read. Through this strategy, the gospel was shared with her entire village.

Very soon, people working for an adult literacy program reached this village. They started adult literacy classes and Praryagabai enrolled. She learned the alphabet in the Marathi language and slowly learned how to read and write. Today, she is 70 years old and has finished reading the entire Bible twice.

Praryagabai still attends every prayer meeting all over the district. If a preacher asks someone to read a passage from the Scripture, she is the first to find it and reads it aloud.

 “I am so very blessed and encouraged by the life of [Praryagabai],” said Vinay Gaikwad, the Mid-Maharashtra district superintendent.

Praryagabai believed that there was no excuse for not sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ: Illiteracy; abandonment from family, relatives, and society; poverty; and even persecution and threats to one’s life. Nothing could stop her from sharing the gospel.

--Church of the Nazarene Eurasia

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