But while Arulai was happy in her new-found faith, her family was not. Every day, Arulai prayed to her Living God. She never prayed to Siva again. And every day, she prayed “Jesus Lord, please, bring the ammal in the white sari to me soon. I want to know more about You from her.”
Arulai didn’t have any idea where the ammal lived, or how far away, but it didn’t bother her. She now knew nothing was too hard for her Living God. She didn’t even worry that she had never been out of her tiny village in all her eleven years. But her family was not pleased. “What shall we do with that child?”, Arulai’s father complained.”She never worships Siva like she should, because she is bewitched by those foreigners and by that Jesus Lord she talks of! It must stop”. Arulai’s mother looked thoughtful. “My brother, you know, is a Christian”, she said. “And yet he does not let that get in the way of his way of life, and his worships and practices. Let us send Arulai to live with him for a while. He only lives a day’s walk away. That should make her rethink all her Jesus Lord talk.”
So Arulai was sent on the day’s journey to her uncle’s village. Indeed, her uncle claimed to be a Christain, but Arulai was puzzled. Her uncle still fit in with the Hindu life, and she never saw him praying to the Living God. She tried not to let his Hindu practices bother her, as she went along as best she could.
She had been with her uncle for several months, when one day, he told her that her father was going to marry her off in a year, to be sure she gave up her new ways. Arulai was devastated. “O God!”, she cried that night, “Living God, I do not want to be a Hindu and I do not want to marry a Hindu! I want to go to the ammal in the sari. Please God, take me to her before my father comes for me! I do not want to live in the darkness anymore!”
A week passed, but nothing happened. Arulai began to think perhaps she had heard wrong about the Living God.
One morning, Arulai was sitting outside her uncle’s house when an older girl she didn’t know came up to her. “Do you want to know more about the true God?”, she asked abruptly. “Yes”, Arulai said. “Very much”. “Do you love Him?”, the girl asked. “Oh yes”, Arulai said. “Where did you first hear about Him?”, the girl asked. “In my village”, Arulai replied. “Some Indian women and a man and some foreigners were telling about Him, and having meetings”. “One of those Indian women is my mother”, the older girl replied. “And I know the others too. They have been gone, but they will come back in two days. They live in the next village, right next to the Christian temple.”
Arulai was so excited she could hardly speak. In the next village! The living God had heard her, and the women would be back in two days! She could hardly wait.
Early on Sunday morning, Arulai set out for the next village, eager to meet the ammal in the white sari. But as she walked along the dusty, sandy path, a thought came to her, and not a very happy one either. “Jesus Lord, I have no offering to give to You. I should never go into your temple without any offerings, but I have nothing to give. I gave offerings to Siva and those dead gods, so it must be more important to give one to You! But I have nothing.” As she prayed, she realized she had stepped on something round and hard. She bent down and picked it up. It was a copper coin! Arulai wasn’t surprised. She knew the living God could do anything.”Thank You”, she whispered. “Now I can enter Your temple”.
When Arulai entered the church, she quietly sat down at the back where some children and some older people were. She listened as a man preached about love and sin, about God and forgiveness, about salvation and hope. The young Indian girl did not understand most of what was being said, but she listened to every word. When the offering plate was passed, she gratefully dropped in the copper coin.
After the sermon, she was delighted to find the ammal in the sari. She eagerly listened while the ammal explained the story of Jesus. Arulai listened for a long time. When she had heard the whole story of Jesus, she acepted Him as her Savior with great joy.
She thanked the ammal for telling her about Jesus, and hurried back to her uncle’s village.
But now that she was a Christian, Arulai had more questions than ever, questions about being a Christian. At every chance she got, she journeyed to the next village to ask her questions or to hear more Bible stories. But one day, she came to the ammal with news. “My father is coming to get me. My family wants me home for four days”, Arulai told her.”I will be back in four days. And I will tell my family all about Jesus! I want them to know they can live in the Light too.”
Arulai was eager to tell her family about her faith, but her family was far from interested, all except her younger sister, Mimosa. Mimosa wanted to hear more about God, but their father refused to let Arulai talk to Mimosa at all!
When Arulai arrived back home to her village, her family did not let her go back to her uncle’s village.They forced her to return to the Hindu practices she hated. And they planned for her to be married to a Hindu very soon! Arulai was grieved. She prayed often, asking God to help her through this time. She knew He would.
One day, Arulai was pounding corn in front of her family’s hut, when a breathless woman hurried up. Arulai dimly reconized her as one of the women who had been with the ammal.
“Why are you here?”, she asked. The woman told Arulai that the ammal had a message for her father. “She wants Arulai to come back and see her”, the woman said. When Arulai’s father heard the message, he angrily refused. But her mother had different ideas.
“That woman put a spell on Arulai”, she said.”Maybe if we let her go back, the ammal will take it off.” To Arulai’s surprise, her father agreed that she could go see the ammal that day. But just for a day. Mimosa pleaded to go too, but her father refused.
Arulai excitedly set off for the ammal’s village. She reached the village the next morning. As she approached the ammal’s house, Arulai became aware that she had a terrible headache. By the time she reached the house, it was worse. The ammal opened the door to find a dazed young girl standing there, sweating and moaning.
Arulai was very sick. She had a very high fever and could not stand up. She had become sick while being mistreated in her village. For a week, Arulai hing between life and death. Her family allowed her to stay at the Christian’s house while she was ill, only because she was too sick to come home. For three weeks, the Christians nursed Arulai back to health. When Arulali’s parents found out, they allowed her to live in her uncle’s village until she was completely well, so she could be close to help if she got sick again.
“Oh, Amma!”, Arulai cried. “I am so happy I can live nearby and come and talk to you every day!” Arulai now called the ammal in the sari “Amma”, which means mother in the Indian language Tamil. And indeed, Arulai considered her Amma to be her mother in her new faith.
Arulai, now twelve, was excited to learn as much as she could from her Amma.
But one day, soon after her recovery, Arulai was inside her uncle’s house, getting ready to go see the ammal again. She suddenly heard voices outside. Voices of two men, arguing loudly. She peeked through the window and saw her father and her uncle outside!
Arulai ran to the back of the house and fell on her knees. “Oh Lord”, she prayed, “Please do not let him take me away! I am living in the light, and I do not want to go back to the darkness!” Suddenly, Arulai seemed to hear a voice, saying “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”. “Thank You, God”, she prayed. A great peace settled over her as she calmly walked outside to greet her father. She kissed her father, and greeted him kindly. Her father was shocked. He was very angry, and tried to grab Arulai’s arm. But his arm fell at his side! He turned to run, but it was as if he was forced to turn around and speak. “I cannot do anything against your powerful God. Read to me from your Book” he said stiffly, surprised at his own words. Arulai joyfully read to her father from the Bible, and prayed for him. Then her father said weakly, “I will never take you away again if you do not want to go. I fear your powerful God. You may stay with the ammal.” Then he walked away, leaving a stunned but joyful Arulai behind.