Christian waylaid and almost killed, Madhya Pradesh.
The 4th of March 2020 began as a usual day for Isaac Paulose,who least expected to end up with most of his bones broken in a hospital bed. In yet another display of brutality triggered by religious nationalism, the dark underbelly of a so called ‘Secular India’ comes to light. A lean and calm person in appearance, Isaac is a young man who is involved in the ministry of social development in a municipality called Sehore, situated in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. He has a budding family and together they fellowship with the Good News Church.
As usual, Isaac was driving back home after dropping his child to school, when a sudden audible presence of around 6 motorcycles riding along side his car threw him off guard. As he slowed down, one of the bikers raced forward and stopped his motorcycle right in front of Isaac’s car. Isaac stepped on the brakes, realizing that he was now surrounded by over 10 men on around 6 motorcycles. One of the men got off his ‘black Bajaj Pulsar’ and approached Isaac. He then asked him to get out of the car. As perplexed as he was, Isaac still got out of his car, but before he could say another word, the anonymous group of men rained blows on him.
In a moment of misery, Isaac was grabbed by one of his furious assailants. Filled with rage, he accused Isaac of convertingpeople to Christianity and then forced him to chant the name of Jesus. As Isaac whispered the name of Jesus, the punch of another fanatic rendered him almost unconscious as he fell hardon the road. Hoping for help and in tremendous pain, he could faintly see the religious goons walk to their bikes and return with bamboo sticks and chains with heavy locks attached to them. Few of the them began violently beating Isaac with the sticks while a couple of them used chains suspended with locks and used it as a sling to whack him. In a state of complete despondency and helplessness, Isaac lay bleeding on the road. The goons then got on to their bikes and started riding around him, each taking a chance of riding over his broken body with their motor bikes and then left.
Isaac’s brother-Paul Paulose was immediately informed about the attack and rushed to the scene. He then made a frantic call to Persecution Relief and spoke to the founder- Mr. Shibu Thomas. Persecution Relief made immediate provisions for an ambulance and medical attention. Isaac was admitted to a hospital with multiple fractures, severe head injuries, broken ribs and profuse bleeding. Mr. Thomas also rushed to the hospital to extend his support and assistance. Briefly speaking to him, a battered and bruised Isaac said, “They told me that they will kill me if they ever see me again”. Isaac has never been attacked or threatened for his faith before. With absolutely no warning, he is completely oblivious to what could have instigated this savageassault.
India still boasts of its secular credentials and status as the largest democracy in the world. However it’s claims of religious tolerance and inclusion stand contrary to the increasing reportsof religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs.
As Isaac and his family face the grievous challenge and trauma of religious persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ, we request your fervent prayers for them and restoration of good health for Isaac. As followers of Jesus Christ, we urgently and genuinely need to pray for the persecutors. Pray that they may be delivered from the evil that blinds them and soon see and experience the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
We always expect God to instantly come to our aid when trouble comes uninvited. However, God’s timing is perfect and he gives us the faith to endure and grow. As Paul encourages us through his letter to the Romans, “Suffering produces endurance” Rom. 5:3. We must encourage each other to press on and keep trusting God especially during these challenging and hard times that our Country is witnessing.
Between January 2016 to December 2019, there has been a rise of 59.6% of Hate Crimes against Christians all across the country. In 2019 alone, Persecution Relief has recorded the maximum number of 527 cases compared to 447 cases in 2018, 440 in 2017 and 330 in 2016.
What stands out amongst the Hate Crimes in India is that 4 Christians were murdered in 2019. We recorded 199 incidents related to Threats, Intimidations & Harassments against Christians, 104 incidents of Church attacks, 85 incidents of Physical Violence reported which includes Women & Children, 100s of House Churches were forcefully closed down by Religious Fanatics and the local administrations.
The state of Uttar Pradesh has showed a shocking 179.4% leap in cases of Christian Persecution between 2016 to 2019! From 39 cases being reported in 2016, the number has sky rocketed to 109 cases in 2019 alone bringing the total count from across the country to 527 cases. Uttar Pradesh has proved to be the most hostile state in the country against Christians for the past 3 consecutive years. Tamil Nadu continues to rank as the second most hostile state in the country with 75 cases, followed by Karnataka with 32 cases, bringing the state of Maharashtra to number 4 with 31 cases and Bihar with 30 cases stands at number 5.
US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) ranked India’s persecution severity at “Tier 2” along with Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past seven years, India has risen from No. 31 to No. 10 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, ranking just behind Iran in persecution severity.
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