Twelve-year-old Dini had always been close to her father, so when he died suddenly she was devastated. That devastation turned to anger and resentment when she learned her father had been having an affair with his sister-in-law, Sundari, who was now pregnant. She also learned that her mother, Wulandari, was pregnant from her father.
Aunt Sundari left town in disgrace, while her sister, Wulandari, struggled to make ends meet. After the birth of her child, Wulandari placed three of her children up for adoption and relocated to the town of Semarang with Dini and the rest of the children.
Four years passed and Wulandari decided to remarry. Dini felt betrayed because her mother had made the decision without consulting anyone in the family. Her father had disappointed Dini by his behavior, and now, in Dini’s eyes, her mother was doing the same.
Dini began to make friends with troublemakers at school and went through a rebellious period. She skipped classes, didn’t wear her school uniform and got into fights. When several of her friends faced serious problems, Dini began to ask: “Is this really the kind of life I want? Life within the confines of religion hadn’t made me happy but a free life without rules wasn’t something I wanted either.”
The month of Ramadan arrived and Dini became diligent in fasting and prayer. One night, during Ramadan, she decided to pray the tahajud prayer, which includes petitions asking God for signs. Her heart was filled with faith that God would answer her prayers. She confessed her confusion as to how she could attain God’s approval and cried many tears, asking God to show her the right way to live; the correct path to follow. Furthermore, she promised God that if He were to show her in an unmistakable way His will for her life, she would follow Him wherever he chose to lead her.
At that point, a bright light appeared in front of Dini and she saw the figure of a man approaching her. The man was wearing a white robe but she couldn’t see his face clearly. Without being told who he was, she realized that he was Jesus. He held out his hand to Dini and said, “Follow me.” Dini was confused. She thought to herself, “Lord, I’m a Muslim. How can I follow you?” In her heart of hearts, however, she knew that following Him was the right choice to make. She said, “God, if this is the way of truth, then I want to follow you.” At that moment, she felt a peace she’d never felt before and the figure in shining white clothes walked away.
Following the experience of her vision, Dini gave her life to Christ and began reading the Bible. When her family discovered she had become a Christian, persecution began. She did not back down on her commitment to follow Christ, however, and when she was 16 years old, she was forced to leave home. She moved to another town where she went to school and supported herself through part-time jobs. Over time, she also pursued reconciliation with her family. She accepted her half-brother, Bambang (Aunt Sundari’s son born out of wedlock), and repented of her ill treatment of her Aunt Sundari. She also reconciled with her mother and other family members. Her greatest test came when she was faced with the realization that bitterness had kept her from forgiving her deceased father and his perceived betrayal toward the family. One day, as Dini sat on a stalled train beside her hometown, she took the much-needed step of forgiving him, too.
Dini continues to make every effort to demonstrate love and forgiveness. Her life is a stirring example of one who can “do all things through Christ who strengthens” her. (Philippians 4:13)