4th Indian Christian Martyrdom Day (ICMD)
The 4th Indian Christian Martyrdom Day (ICMD) was nothing short of Historic. For the very first time ever, the 4th ICMD was commemorated online on the 22nd of July 2020 by Persecution Relief in partnership with over 35 leading Christian organizations worldwide and more than 50,000 churches. We also received thousands of missed calls from people across India pledging to participate in the 4th ICMD.
The meeting which was simultaneously held on online platforms like Zoom and Facebook Live seen hundreds of spectators with over 470 participants join in on Zoom alone.
People across the globe joined the momentous online gathering to pray and support the widows and families of Christian Martyrs in India.
Persecution Relief has been observing the ICMD to honor the families of Martyrs who lost their loved ones on account of their Christian faith in India. This is an event which is held annually on the 22nd of July, in large and small gatherings across India, however, the Covid-19 crisis did not hinder the event which was planned online this year.
It also aims at creating an awareness of the shining testimonies of the Martyr’s lives and the challenges that their brave families face in India.
In 2015, a 14-year-old girl was raped and murdered because of her Christian faith on the 22nd of July. Since then, Persecution Relief fondly remembers her as ‘Bharat Ki Beti’ and recognizes the 22nd of July as the Indian Christian Martyrdom Day.
The Founder of Persecution Relief- Mr. Shibu Thomas, joyfully flagged off the event at 6:00 pm with a big smile and a warm welcome.
Pr. Santosh Kurian- Persecution Relief’s coordinator for the state of Goa, led the guests into a time of prayer, committing the event into God’s hands.
After giving a brief introduction about the ICMD and the reason behind it, the Founder requested Mr. Rajeev to pray for the Persecuted Church in India.
Mr. Rajeev not only prayed and thanked God for setting His gaze on India and choosing the nation to declare His name through the sacrifice of precious lives but also prayed that God would pour out His mercy over India.
The assembly was in for a surprise when the Founder introduced Rev. Dr. D. Mohan- a renowned and humble Christian Leader known worldwide for his close walk with God. Rev. Dr. D. Mohan who has been very instrumental in mentoring the Founder shared about the importance of standing with the Persecuted Church through the life of Stephen- the first Martyr for Christ.
After appreciating Rev. Dr. D. Mohan, the Founder then welcomed and introduced Jaini Munshi-the widow of Pr. Munshi Devu Tando who was Martyred on the 10th of July 2020 by Naxalites in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Pr. Vijay who made it possible for her to join the meeting, also spoke about her courage.
She was a sight to behold with a smile that spanned from ear to ear as she testified about God’s faithfulness over her family in spite of her loss. She is now a 26-year- old widow with 4 young children to
When the Founder asked her why she was so joyful after recently losing her husband, she said, “His body is taken, but his spirit is with Jesus Christ! I will continue serving the Christians in my village, I’m not going anywhere!”
Many spectators were awestruck after hearing Jaini Munshi- fondly referred by the Founder as ‘Hero No 1!’ He explained that both Jaini and Pr. Munshi were originally Naxalites whom God had miraculously saved. He thanked Jaini and Pr.Vijay for joining in and assured them of all his help and support.
Pr. Ben Abraham then prayed for Jaini, her 4 children and the Church in her village.
Persis John, an anointed worshipper, then led the assembly into a Spirit-filled time of worship. The heart moving hymns stirred one and all to surrender their all to Jesus Christ. “He died for us so that we may live for Him” she encouraged with tears in her eyes.
As she concluded the time of worship, the Founder asked her why she was moved to tears, to which she replied, “ As I worshipped, God reminded me about the time, many years ago, when I made a commitment to not only live for Him but also lay down my life for Him, if necessary. It was then that He told me that a revival would sweep across India but a big price would have to be paid”
“God is not a man, to not keep His word!” the Founder said as he thanked Persis John for serving the Body of Christ.
“Let me introduce you to, “Hero no 2 and 3” the Founder then added. With that said, Sonamati and Neelam Purthy joined in to share their testimony with the assembly. Sonamati is the widow of Pr. Chamu Purthy who was Martyred by religious radicals in 2015 in Jharkhand. Neelam- a final year theology student is his oldest daughter, apart from 3 other children. In April 2020, Neelam was also shot by religious radicals but survived the attack.
“As the Bible says, No one should look behind after putting their hands to the plough! I feel privileged to serve a living God.” Sonamati exclaimed. Talking about Pr. Chamu she said, “My husband always desired that none should be lost. On the 12th of October, 2015, he brought 10 people to the Lord, that same night he was shot dead in front of me.”
Sonamati now looks after the Church which her husband left behind. Concluding her testimony, she said, “My entire family is for Jesus Christ, we will never look back.” Duicy John, who leads the Persecution Relief Prayer Warrior Group for Women, blessed and prayed for Martyr Pr. Chamu Purthy’s family.
Joining us next as “Hero no. 4” was Sarbjeet Kaur-the widow of Pr. Sultan Masih who was shot thrice outside his Church building. Her son, Pr. Alisha also joined us. “Our beginnings were small, we used to live in the Jungle” he said. “But now our family oversees a large network of Churches” he added.
Pr. Alisha ended with Apostle Paul’s famous quote, “But for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He also thanked his “Big Brother” Shibu Thomas and Persecution Relief for standing with the family through thick and thin.
At this point, the Founder emphasized, “Sonamati is my own, Alisha is my brother, Jaini’s children are my children, when one-part hurts, the whole body feels the pain. Since 2016, the Persecution Relief family has embraced these precious ones, and loved and cared for them as our own, they have become a part of me”
He explained that Persecution Relief not only provides these families with basic needs on a monthly basis but also mobilizes Christians in India and across the world to encourage and genuinely stand with them in prayer. He urged the gathering to ‘Adopt a Martyr’s family’ in the same way. Many people committed themselves to fervently pray and serve the Martyr’s families to the best of their abilities.
Introducing Hulda Topno – widow of Pr. Abraham Topno, as “Hero no. 5” the Founder said, “She seen her husband’s beheaded body lying on the road! But look at her today.” With a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eyes she shared about the thriving ministry that her husband and her used to look after.
“We used to minister in the remote villages of Jharkhand, and lived in our jeep as we didn’t have our own home.” She went on to share how she felt alone after her husband was martyred, as they did not have any children. However, God spoke to her saying, “I will give you many brothers and sisters.”
Hulda then decided to continue with their ministry and now leads a church in the same village. “God works all things for our good, till my last breath, I will serve Him.” She concluded.
The Founder then went on to introduced Isaac Rebka to the gathering. He is “Hero no. 6” Isaac’s testimony is nothing short of a miracle. At 22, he was abducted by Maoist a few years ago. After making him walk for over 500kms through the harsh terrain of the Jungles of Southern India, Maoist rebels held him captive for 14 days, threatening him to forsake Jesus Christ.
During that time, the rebels held him at gunpoint, to which Isaac replied, “You are not hurting me, you are hurting God. The God of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego will save me!” Enraged at his reply, the Maoist fired the gun thrice, but alas, not a single bullet was shot!”
The Maoist were shocked at what they had witnessed and confessed, “Your God, is the real God” and later released him.
Isaac comes from a family of heroes too. His father Elijah, used to be a Maoist commander. But after meeting with Jesus, Commander Elijah began leading many rebels to the Lord. He now leads a 15,000 strong Church, deep in the jungles, still bringing many Maoist to the knowledge of the truth.
Commander Elijah’s brother- Pr. Yohan Mariah was Martyred by rebels in 2016 in Andhra Pradesh. He was also a Maoist but led many to Christianity after a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ. His wife and three sons are presently leading the Church he left behind and Pr. Yohan’s assassin has also given his life to Jesus.
“Hero no. 7” joined us next. Rukdai Samrat- widow of Sahadev Samrat who was killed on account of his Christian faith in 2019 in Chhattisgarh. Pr. Nagendar Kumar helped Rukdai to join the ICMD event and also translated for her.
“Locals had asked us to forsake Christ, but we didn’t. I have no regrets and I urge one and all to persevere for Jesus sake.” She said. Rukdai now lives with her 2 daughters and continues to profess her Christian faith.
Before even a question was asked about the assassins of their dear ones, the families of the Martyrs gracefully let their spectators know that they had long forgiven their persecutors, bringing back to mind the amazing way in which Christian missionary Glady Staines forgave the very ones who burned her husband, Graham Staines and two little sons alive.
The simple and powerful accounts of the Martyr’s families roused the hearts of their audience and moved many to tears causing one and all to ponder on the huge sacrifices they have made and the challenges they daily encounter with smiles on their faces.
All the families shared about how grateful they were to Persecution Relief. After a time packed with inspiring testimonies from the Martyr’s widows and families themselves, the Founder summed up the event asking everyone to join him in singing, “I have decided to follow Jesus”
Urging the assembly to pray for the frontline Christian workers who risk their lives daily, the Founder said, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, and whoever is ready to lose his life will gain it”
The Founder then requested Rev. Zac Koshy from the USA, whom he warmly calls his brother in Christ, to bring the event to a close with a prayer.
After Rev. Zac Koshy prayed and thanked God for the 4th Indian Christian Martyrdom Day, the Founder was led by the Holy Spirit to pray for the persecutors of the Church. Finally, the participants joined together with the Founder to pray for the Covid-19 crisis and the current economic situation in India.
This significant meeting was scheduled for just an hour, between 6:00pm to 7:00pm, but with each inspiring testimony, both the crowd and the time limit increased. The meeting was ultimately brought to a memorable end at 8:40 pm, with the Founder praying for the Government of India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking God to bless him with much wisdom to govern the nation of India.
Prior to the 22nd of July 2020, Persecution Relief also commemorated the 4th ICMD on its online Sunday Worship Service for the Persecuted Church in India on Sunday, the 19th of July 2020. The widows and families of the Christians shared their testimonies at that meeting as well.
Addressing over 250 participants at the event, the Founder of Persecution Relief urged the gathering to shell off every ounce of bitterness against those who persecute Christians in India and forgive them. “Just as Jesus Christ teaches us, we must love our persecutors unconditionally. If you hate those who persecute you, you cannot be a real disciple of Christ!” He went on to add, “The motto of Persecution Relief is to ‘Serve the Persecuted-Love the Persecutor’
We thank God for giving us such remarkable opportunities to serve the Persecuted Church. Although it is painful to witness their adversity, we feel blessed and privileged to bring restoration and support to them, in the best ways possible. It is impossible to do this on our own. It is only God who divinely provides all resources and supernatural ability.
Persecution Relief is from God, it is for God and it is to serve God.
A special thanks to all those who partnered with us for the 4th Indian Christian Martyrdom Day (ICMD), just to name a few:
United Christian Forum
Body Of Christ (BOC)
Evangelical Fellowship of India
Assemblies of God
National Council of Dalit Christians
India Mission Association
Church of North India
Apostolic Churches Alliance
Stewards Association in India
National Church of India
Windows International Network
International Network of Democratic Indians Abroad
Church in Chains
For more information about the Indian Christian Martyrdom Day (ICMD), log on to our website: www.indianchristianmartyrdomday.com Please also visit us at www.persecutionrelief.org to know more about Persecution Relief and get latest updates of Hate Crimes Against Christians in India.
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