Hi, Kia Ora, Howzit, Sawubona, Goeiedag!
I’m originally from Tongaat, Durban, KwaZulu Natal, in South Africa. On the 27th of May, I was enrolled as a senior soldier of The Salvation Army in Johnsonville.
My background is that I grew up in a conservative Hindu family. It was a difficult journey because, even as a practicing Hindu, I knew something was not quite right in my life as I questioned everything. Apparently, I started asking questions when I was just two and I never stopped! My family are awesome and wonderful in many ways, and I love them dearly. I am who I am because of them and I never forget this, but I believe the Lord chose me a long time ago for something different.
When I was a wee lass, I heard the song ‘I’m Going to be a Soldier in the Army of the Lord’. I thought it was a cool song, but didn’t realise it was about The Salvation Army. That’s because I grew up in apartheid South Africa, which meant I was restricted in what I was exposed to—nationally and internationally. This oppression, along with growing up in a marginalised society, was hard for me. I couldn’t understand why I was treated differently just because of my skin colour.
Culturally, Hindu homes are patriarchal, with gender discrimination. As a girl, I was restricted in many things. I was told that there were lots of things I wouldn’t be able to do in life because I was a girl. This was hard for me to understand because I was growing up with three brothers. I tried everything they tried—and boy, did I often get myself into trouble because of that!
My grandfather and grand-mother were my role models. I am grateful for everything they’ve taught me. But when I was 16, I visited a long-lost aunt and uncle for a holiday. They were Christians and took me to church on Christmas Day. Listening to the Christmas story that day changed me forever—I knew I belonged somewhere and that the Church was my family. The Lord saved me that day and has made his face to shine upon me since then.
I had to deal with opposition being a Hindu girl wanting to practice Christianity. My family stood against the idea and I struggled with them about this until my early twenties. My grandfather eventually realised he couldn’t change what was in my heart and unbelievably accepted my belief in Christianity.
At the age of 25, I decided that I wasn’t meant to be in South Africa. Unsure of where the Lord intended me to live, I chose to move to the Holy Land, Israel, where I was blessed to live for three years. I then moved to the United Kingdom, living there for two years. But London was too grey for me, so I came to New Zealand in 2004, where I’ve finally found ‘home’ in Windy Wellington!
What have I learnt? I love my colour, love being a girl, and love that I can do anything because I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things are possible!
By Rani (abridged from War Cry, 28 July 2012, p9)