Kani was born in a small village in Southern India into a Hindu family; they were in one of the lowest castes, Dalit, sometimes known as the untouchables. She had an arranged marriage at 16 and by the age of 21 she already had four children.
Her husband was an alcoholic and died soon after her fourth child was born. When he died nobody helped her, so she had to provide for her four children alone. She found a job gathering bricks to be used for construction. She could not send her children to school, but she was able to keep them fed and clothed.
Eventually her children were all old enough to work as well. It was then, that Kani’s brother in law, Murgan, offered to take the whole family in. This seemed like the best option for them, even though it was apparent he only wanted them now that the children could make money.
It was also a hard situation for Kani because this brother in law had been asking her to marry him ever since his brother had died. Murgan was already married, but his wife was mentally handicapped, and he wanted Kani. Although it was difficult on her, she decided to stay until the children were older before she moved away.
When her oldest was 20, she was given the chance to move to the large city of Chennai, in Tamil Nadu. Her friend let her travel with her family as they moved, and promised that Kani could stay with them until she found a job. After a day of travel they arrived in Chennai, but it was made clear by her friend’s husband that Kani would not be allowed to stay with them and she was thrown out onto the street. She immediately started looking for a job and searching for food. She had always been a devout Hindu, so she also went to pray to the gods at a local temple. But the gods did not provide her guidance or peace, in fact, they had never given her peace.
On the third day after reaching Chennai, Kani had still not found a job or even eaten anything. She waslaying on the side of the road, discouraged and weak, when a man stopped and told her about a church down the road that could help her. So he brought her to the church where she met Pastor James and his wife Victoria. They welcomed her and let her eat as much as she wanted and gave her clothes to wear.
Kani had heard as a child that Christians could come to God and ask Him for help. So after being overcome by the love and kindness of this pastor and his wife, she knelt down and prayed to God. She prayed for either a job in Chennai or a way to travel back to her hometown. That same day, Pastor James offered her a job at the church, saying that she could eat and sleep there as well! Kani accepted Christ that day, and realized she had peace in her life for the first time. Soon after, Pastor James also helped arrange a healthy marriage for Kani so that her brother in law would stop harassing her.A new life had begun.
12 years later, Kani has an 11 year old daughter, a good marriage, a job working in a public garden, and strong relationship with Jesus Christ. She also works with the Gypsy and Tribal Empowerment (GATE) ministry, by spreading the gospel to her fellow tribal people, and teaching them how to grow and sell their own food. She is a wonderful gardener, and has passed this on to many communities and families. Physical and spiritual lives have been saved due to her faithfulness and compassion in ministry.
However, living for Christ has not been easy. Her brother in law, Murgan, lied to her children about what kind of woman Kani was. He told them she had gone to Chennai to become a prostitute and that she didn’t really love them. Her children and extended family make fun of her Christian faith and are still unresponsive to the Gospel. They say that Hinduism is an inherited religion so how could she possibly become a Christian. She tells them that “Jesus is the real God because He touched me when I was hurting. Come to Jesus and He will help you too”.
Five years ago the situation escalated when her brother in law went to the extreme in trying to kill Kani by having a witch doctor put a curse on her. She was attacked by an evil spirit, and the spiritual warfare caused her to lose her mind temporarily. She roamed the streets, treated her daughter badly, and would not eat, but she did drink and smoke. Her husband had to tie her legs to the bed so that she didn’t go out and hurt herself. For a month, Pastor James would come and pray for her, and finally the spirit stopped tormenting her and she regained her mind. This was when Kani dedicated her life to ministry with GATE, as a way to thank the Lord.
When asked how she remains faithful to the Lord, even in her trials, Kani says that “the Lord has not forgotten her, so she cannot forget Him“. She says that when the people curse her for sharing the gospel she is able to remain patient because she knows that one day they will change.
She asks prayer for her family’s salvation, especially Murgan, as well as the salvation of the Tribal people she works with. She is getting older and so she asks for prayer to stay healthy so she can continue to serve.