Manraj looked out from the walls of his small wine shop to see GFA pastor Dinshah walk past. Just the sight of the pastor made Manraj’s blood boil.
“Why are you often fooling the villagers by sharing about your foreign god, whom we never adopted from our forefathers?” Manraj sneered, forcing the pastor to stop in his tracks.
The 58-year-old wine shop owner’s false accusation caught the attention of his customers and people nearby. Soon they surrounded Pastor Dinshah and joined in the scoffing.
Pastor Dinshah looked at them through eyes of compassion and smiled.
An Unfounded Hatred
Manraj hated Christians, a fact apparent to any of his customers. No one could purchase alcohol form Manraj without hearing of his intense dislike of Christians, particularly Pastor Dinshah. The pastor had done nothing to personally offend Manraj; he had done nothing wrong at all. But Manraj couldn’t stand to watch Pastor Dinshah visit with people, share God’s Word with them and pray for families.
That day, when Pastor Dinshah walked pass his shop, Manraj could not control his hatred: He hurled false assumptions at the innocent. Surprisingly, Pastor Dinshah did not cower; instead, he looked with love at the people who had surrounded him and said, “I ask and get permission from the family, and then I share the Word of God and pray for them. If you do not believe, you can go and ask the villagers. If I am wrong, you can punish me or do whatever you want. I am ready.”
Taking what the pastor said into consideration, the crowd dispersed—and did exactly what he suggested.
A Hardened Heart, A Stubborn Mind
For three months, Pastor Dinshah’s accusers met with the villagers whom the pastor visited with and prayed for regularly. They asked about Pastor Dinshah’s intentions and his character and soon found out that not one of the things they had believed of him was true. The pastor was kind, polite and caring toward others. One by one, each of Pastor Dinshah’s accusers approached him and asked for his forgiveness. But not Manraj.
Manraj refused to own up to his mistakes, refused to apologize and, most of all, refused to quit looking for ways to hamper Pastor Dinshah’s ministry. Even villagers whom Manraj had previously poisoned with his opinions came to him, asking him to end his misguided quest of trying to find fault with the pastor. He was a good man, they said. But Manraj refused.
Hearts Transformed by God’s Love
Seeing Manraj’s continued hatred compelled Pastor Dinshah to pray for the older man. He made efforts to visit with the wine shop owner and speak kind words to him, even if his attempts were met with contempt. But Pastor Dinshah persisted, and with each interaction, the Lord rooted out the stubbornness dwelling in Manraj’s heart. The unconditional love and care shown by the pastor overshadowed Manraj’s negative thoughts until, finally, Manraj asked the pastor to forgive him. He eventually invited Pastor Dinshah to his own home to dine with him and asked the pastor to visit with his family, pray for them and share God’s Word—the very things he once despised.
Pastor Dinshah visited Manraj several times in the following weeks. As he learned more about Jesus, understanding took root and began to bloom in Manraj’s heart: Christianity was about dwelling and rejoicing in the everlasting love of God. Manraj decided he wanted this loving God in his life.
As the Holy Spirit continued to move, Manraj decided to close his wine shop and rear domestic animals to provide for his family. He is now an active member of Pastor Dinshah’s church and can be found sitting among the people he once hated. He rejoices in God’s incredible and transformative love—the same love he was shown, the same love he has embraced.