by Madison Strauder
Delhi is full of worshipers. Delhi is full of people living in fear.
I was recently in Delhi and prayer walked with two other Christians through a historical area of the city. As we walked into a centuries-old fort, individuals and families made their way to the far end of the compound. We followed. The top floor of the seven hundred-year-old structure has the remains of a mosque that is still in use today. The bottom floor used to be a jail and is where the jinn are believed to be.
In Islam, jinn are believed to be spirits that can be either evil or good. They are often feared and worshiped. Many people were worshiping them there that day.
Hindus visit this place too. Word has spread throughout Delhi that this is a spiritual place, and thousands flock here to pray and petition the jinn.
We watched and prayed as people took off their shoes and walked into this cavernous stone and brick building. They carried gifts for the jinn—candles, incense, sweets, flowers, and paper—into what looked like a dark dungeon. We eventually took off our shoes and followed them.
Darkness enveloped us. We slowly made our way through the stone corridors as bats hung over our heads and we walked barefoot through their feces. That was uncomfortable. But the spiritual darkness of that place was heart-wrenching. Tiny stone cells lined each corridor, and inside each one, people prayed to the jinn. Sometimes they left notes with their needs written out. They hoped the jinn would rescue them.
A lady was in a cell that was pitch black. I would not have known she was there if I hadn’t heard her crying in prayer to Baba, “Father,” over and over. Never have I seen such a clear depiction of someone being in complete and utter darkness. Such lostness.
We walked around the perimeter of one building while people prayed to the jinn at each cell. We walked in freedom because of Christ. They did not. We desperately prayed for the people there without hope.
Our guide assured us that the jinn are real and hear people’s prayers. I shared about the one true God and that he loves us, sent his son to die for us, and hears my prayers. I told our guide that I was praying he would come to know that too.
The guide led us to a large well that was gated. He said the government had to put a fence around it because too many people were committing suicide by jumping in.
People without hope praying to the father of lies. People looking for freedom and finding none. It was no surprise this had been a popular suicide spot. What bondage.
As I reflected on this, God reminded me of the testimony of Paul. In Acts 26:17-18, Paul shared that the Lord sent him to the Gentiles to “open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in [him].”
I continue to pray for the people of Delhi. Please pray with me that
- God will open the eyes of the spiritually blind in Delhi,
- they will walk in the light and hope of the one, true God,
- Delhi will be known as a city of people who worship in spirit and in truth, and
- it will be a beacon of hope to India, Asia, and the world.
Madison Strauder enjoys sharing stories from her travels around South Asia.
Cover photo courtesy of the International Misson Board ( Thousands of worshipers flock to this former jail in the historic fortress of Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, where they pray to spirits known as jinn.)