India is a land of intense spiritual darkness, but in the midst of this, God is calling out his children to light and new life.
“Shitala” in Sanskrit means “the one who cools,” and among the Hindu gods, she is believed to cure people of skin diseases and fevers, particularly children. Her day of worship comes right after Holi, the festival of love where people are called to forgive others and repair broken relationships.
This goddess’ images almost always depict her riding on a donkey with a small jar of water to sooth the thirsty and grant healing. The shrine statues seem like a distorted image of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey’s foal or Christ offering living water to the woman at the well.
The Failure of a False Goddess
Radhika felt that she was meant to become a witchdoctor shortly after she began worshiping Shitala. In the goddess’s name, she began driving off bad spirits and purifying people’s houses.
It was good work. Her husband was a common laborer, and her business as a witchdoctor brought in much-needed money.
She quickly became famous in the village for her supernatural work.
Around that time, however, her husband became mentally disturbed. She tried her best to cure him using her incantations and remedies, but nothing happened. Upset and becoming increasingly desperate, she turned to doctors. The medicine they prescribed for him helped, and finally he had relief.
The whole experience, however, rattled Radhika’s faith in her power. If she could cure others, why hadn’t she been able to cure her husband?
Why hadn’t Shitala helped her and her husband?
The True Well of Life
Radhika knew the local Christian pastor who was working in her village. She approached him with questions about his God.
Slowly, she became more and more involved in community work with the pastor rather than spending her time with the witchdoctor work. She had witnessed spirits and their workings, so she wanted to see what this God would do.
While in the church, she learned that the God of the Bible was merciful, and he had given his son to save her. The Son gave life that nothing in the world—or the supernatural realm, as Radhika had known it—could take away.
She became member of the community wellness committee and started attending a World Challenge partner’s training, listening closely to the spiritual lessons.
One day, she invited the church trainers into her home and prayed for the first time in Jesus name, then she invited the church to pray for her family.
Radhika still has many questions and is slowly working through how a life with Christ should look. Bit by bit, she is learning how tell the old demonic practices of Shitala apart from God’s work. She has found a well of spiritual life, built by a God who knew her from before the foundation of the earth and has patiently called out to her soul.