The only Christian Sai Sree, a member at the Downtown Campus of Houston’s First, knew growing up in southern India was a great aunt. “Why would anyone want to go down a (caste) level?” she wondered. Sai fought the idea of becoming a Christian for years, but found that in times of greatest uncertainty, Christ provided direction and healing.
Sai went from arguing about Christianity with “strange” people handing out tracts to reading the Bible — only if a friend would stop trying to convert her. She read two pages, but that was enough to understand there is only one God. The next time she went to her temple, something — someone — told her not to worship the man-made statue at the entrance.
“I thought it was possible I was going crazy, but I couldn’t worship that statue anymore,” said Sai.
She traveled to Auburn University in Alabama to do her doctoral work. After the incident with the statue and an invitation to go to church by Michael (above), her only acquaintance in the United States, her unspoken prayer was “I want to worship the true God — whoever that is.”
Sai began attending Bible studies and asking lots of questions. For 11 months Michael and others answered her questions about God and the Bible. She became a believer — accepted Jesus Christ’s gift of salvation — and was baptized, but was afraid to tell her parents. “They would be heartbroken,” she explained. “It would be a betrayal.”
Six months after she was baptized, she had an opportunity to go back to India to present some of her research. A sore throat and nagging cough would follow her to India and back again. She went to the student infirmary for a blood test, and her white count was so high they thought the machine had malfunctioned.
Michael drove her to visit an oncologist and the results were ten times higher than a normal blood count. Sai and the doctor had to console Michael, who had fallen apart at the news that she had chronic myeloid leukemia.
On the same Sunday, two people at her church in unrelated circles gave her Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear, for I am with you...I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” The pastor’s sermon that day was also from Isaiah 41:10.
“I knew God was talking to me,” said Sai. Though her white count was even higher after a second blood test, she knew God was up to something. She didn’t study the websites as the doctor had advised; instead, she studied the Word of God.
After 21 days of chemotherapy pills, her blood count was back to normal. And as she and her friends had prayed, she had zero side effects from chemo. She didn’t even have to take time away from her PhD studies, graduating earlier than some of her healthy colleagues.
To follow up, Sai had to take one pill each day at the cost of $3,000 per month. “Who would want to marry me now?” she wondered. A nice Hindu guy was interested, and she considered marrying him. It would make her parents happy, but he wasn’t a Christian. She made an appointment with her pastor to ask his advice even though she already knew the answer.
Upon graduation, job offers flooded in, and Sai took a job at Oregon State University. Not long after she began work, she got a call from Michael. “He said he missed me and asked if I saw us getting married in the future,” said Sai. For three years she asked her parents while Michael waited patiently for the day they might relent and let her marry a Christian.
After six months of writing, the professor she worked for at OSU decided he would not publish her work. Then he laid her off. Her job was ending in 15 days, and her work visa was expiring. She didn’t want marriage to Michael to be Plan B, but all their friends told them it was God’s plan to get them in the same city and to make the marriage happen.
Sai moved to Texas, and in three days God provided a job for Sai, and their friends arranged the perfect wedding ceremony. She says God took care of every detail, the venue, flowers, the cake, and even friends who were led to help pay for the wedding. A ready-made gown fell into her lap that perfectly fit her five-foot stature. The ceremony was “secret,” but her sister was able to come from India, along with many friends from the States they had made over the years.
“I knew I loved this man,” she said. “ My parents weren’t happy we got married, but they came to the wedding we had in India the following December. It went much better than we anticipated.”
Sai’s Hindu oncologist still can’t understand how she got over chronic myelogenous leukemia in 21 days, always brushing off Sai’s explanation of a miracle. But then, Sai had the same attitude toward Christ little more than a decade ago. “I hadn’t wanted to be a Christian,” said Sai, “but the one true God had other plans.