Rupesh and Champak shared a common background. That’s why it was easy for Rupesh to relate to Champak’s problems.

Champak Goyal had a lot of problems, and he was surprised when Rupesh Modi offered an empathetic ear. Champak sensed that Rupesh seemed to really understand what he was going through—the financial problems, the family struggles, the empty, unsettled feeling in his soul.

Rupesh could empathize with Champak because he had been in that same situation himself. He grew up in a family that held tightly to the traditional religious beliefs of their community. Rupesh, his parents and nine siblings worshiped idols and strictly followed all the customs that came with this lifestyle.

The family’s life changed dramatically when Rupesh was in an accident in the fifth grade. As the doctors treated him for a broken leg, they also discovered that he had tuberculosis. The prognosis was not promising for this child from a family of modest means. Doctors said he had just three months to live.

As the family was reeling from this news, the pastor of a nearby church came to visit them. Even though their village leaders—and most of the villagers—were openly hostile to the name of Christ, Rupesh’s family allowed the pastor to pray for the young man. This pastor also told them how much Jesus loved them. The pastor visited Rupesh regularly over the next two months. At the end of that time Rupesh was healed from tuberculosis and he had chosen to follow Christ.

Rupesh continued to grow in his faith, and it was during this time that he met Gospel for Asia–supported missionary Vidur Sawant. The missionary discipled Rupesh and eventually helped him enroll in a Bible college.

Rupesh is now the pastor of a church in the same district where Champak lives. Many of the people in the village are illiterate, so Rupesh can’t rely on traditional teaching and preaching methods to share God’s love. But he is compassionate and cares about the people, which was obvious to Champak.

As Rupesh talked with Champak, he remembered what it was like to be devoted to an idol and to fearfully fulfill all the rituals. His heart went out to Champak and he told the young man about God’s love. Champak was amazed at the story of Christ’s life and how Jesus loved him enough to die for him. Champak chose to follow Christ that day; he finally found the peace he’d been seeking all these years.

Today Rupesh is discipling Champak, just as Vidur helped him grow. He recognizes a pastor’s heart in his young disciple. This is an easy task for Rupesh; he just thinks back to what it was like when he was in Champak’s shoes.