By Wilson Measapogu
Sundar Rao, a 27-year-old farm worker, was intrigued when a white man showed up at his Indian village and read about a Creator God from a black book on Saturdays.
Sundar was attracted to U.S. missionary Theodore R. Flaiz’s Bible stories and decided to follow his God.
Sundar’s employer was furious when he didn’t go to the field the first Sabbath. His anger grew as Sundar kept missing Saturday work.
At home, Sundar angered his relatives by no longer participating in family religious festivals, including the worship of Naga, a snake god.
After some time, Sundar sought peace by building a house just beyond the brook that marked the village’s border. Soon he got married and had a daughter.
One day when Sundar was 29, the employer asked him to work on a Saturday. “After your worship ends on Saturday, come and help count bales of hay”, he demanded.
Sundar reluctantly obeyed. He arrived at the field after sunset but before darkness had set in. With help from others, he counted the bales. Noticing a small bale off to one side, he kicked it toward a larger bale. In a split second, a young cobra sprang from the bale, struck him on the leg, and fled.
No medical help was available, and Sundar knew he would die soon.
The villagers had no doubt that Naga was punishing him.
“Naga is very angry at you”, one said.
“It’s because you disobeyed all the village gods”, said another.
Sundar started to sweat. Formerly estranged family members gathered around him and wept. The village waited for him to close his eyes and die.
But nothing happened. An hour passed. Two hours. A snakebite specialist was summoned to check his leg. The specialist was astounded with what he found. He declared that the cobra had struck Sundar with the top of his mouth, not with the poisonous fangs, and had fled in fright without bothering to bite a second time.
The next day, the villagers were amazed to see that Sundar was healthy and happy.
“The protection of the white man’s God has saved him from the cobra bite”, they said.
From that moment, in 1957, many villagers joined Sundar in keeping the Sabbath.
Five years after the snakebite, I was born to Sundar.
Today, Gudem Madhavaram is an Adventist village. It has produced 40 pastors and Bible workers, and many educators and health professionals. On Saturdays, the whole village stops to worship the Creator God. This is the power of the God who turned a snakebite into a blessing.
Wilson Measapogu is executive secretary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Southern Asia Division, whose territory includes India. His father died in August 2017 at the age of 77.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. Find more mission stories at adventistmission[dot]org
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