Begging to be healed, Vani Marshall dared to touch an idol and got chased off by a priest.
“You are a sinner! You will never be able to touch god!” he shouted behind her. “There will always be a wall between you and god.”
Vani descended from a family of Brahmin chief priests, but none of the 3.3 million Hindu gods to whom she prayed could cure her disease. The condition baffled doctors, ravaged her with pain, and caused Vani to collapse randomly in public.
Her family made a pilgrimage from their native Malaysia to the center of Hinduism, India, in search of a miraculous cure.
Vani, 18 at the time, ascended a spiral staircase, thinking she could find god. Arriving at an upper level, she spied the heavy curtains keeping out the general public. Thinking the coast was clear, she pulled the curtains back, slipped in, and lay ahold of the myriad-eyed, multiple-armed idol to plead for mercy.
Out of nowhere, an outraged Hindu priest stormed in with his arms raised as if ready to strike the hapless teen. She quickly ran, with the angry priest in pursuit.
What she had done was a sacrilege in Hinduism. For two reasons, she was unequivocally prohibited from the inner sanctum behind the curtain: she was not a priest; she was a woman.
Moreover, she had desecrated the idol by touching the “holy” with human hands.
So when the Hindus ran her off, Vani surmised grimly: “I’m sunk for now. My pilgrimage to search for god was over. My sickness was still in my body.”
Vani had always had an atypical hunger to know about God. She sneaked the Hindu holy books out of her grandpa’s library to read, something prohibited for Hindu girls.
With the onset of a disease that doctors thought might be caused by a cancer in her brain (but never found in a cat scan), her search for truth intensified. When the pilgrimage to India ended only with frustration, she began to think other thoughts.
Since doctors couldn’t find a cure, they prescribed pain pills to “manage” the pain. Desperate, Vani considered suicide by consuming the whole bottle at once. But on the day she planned to end her life, she was sitting in her room remembering years before how people had knocked on her door and given her a Christian tract. Also, some friend had sent her a Christmas card.
“What have I got to lose? Nobody will find out. I’ll call him,” she said to herself. “We’ll see if he hears me, if he knows me. After all, the priest said I could never go through the veil, that I didn’t have access. So probably nothing is going to happen in this empty room.”
It was late at night, time to sleep. But she cried out: “Jesus!”
At first, nothing happened, so she continued: “I’m Hindu. I worship many gods.”
“Jesus!” she cried out again.
She lived on a street with no street lights.
Suddenly a light appeared outside the house. It penetrated the room.
“I am Jesus! I am God!” a voice said audibly.
Simultaneously, the pain disappeared from her body.
“The pain I had for many years that I had become accustomed to was gone immediately,” she says. “The pain left.”
The next morning, Mom knocked on her door to take her to temple for Hindu prayers.
“I was still basking in this Jesus deal,” she recalls.
She declined to go to temple.
Her mother was upset when she found out it was Jesus. “We’re going to have a talk later,” her mother said.
After prayers, Mom returned with dad and several relatives who were Hindu priests. All were aghast. How had she been deceived to believe in Jesus? they asked, perplexed and upset.
Nothing dissuaded her Vani. “I couldn’t go back. He healed my pain,” she says.
“It is unthinkable if you have a lineage of Hindu priests for centuries old, there is no way you can step into another religious system and let it be accepted,” she says.
In fact, her mother drove her and dropped her at the home of Christians. She was immediately and effectively disowned.
“The good thing is when you’re among believers, they make room for those who are thrown out,” she says.
She lived with a Christian family. She found love and support.
Every time she called her family for a birthday, her mother, “feeling betrayed,” hung up.
After a year, her dad, worried about his business ventures, came to visit Vani’s church. Sitting in the back, he said, “What is that I am feeling in here? It’s so thick. I can’t stop praying.”
A little old lady prayer warrior came by. “Tell him to say, ‘Hallelujah.’”
“He jack-knifed and stood up. He only got half that ‘Hallelujah’ out,” Vani recalls. “God filled him with the Holy Ghost.”
He was shaking.
The pastor came in, and he got baptized and cast off the red thread bracelet of Hinduism.
“Is this what you’ve been doing all this while?” Dad asked Vani.
“Yes,” she replied.
“I don’t blame you,” he said.
Today Vani is married and ministers with her husband, Marshall Francis, a former guitarist on the entertainment circuit in Malaysia. They live in Louisiana, according to NECF Malaysia.
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
About this writer: Michael Ashcraft is a financial professional in California.