Christian women attacked By fanatics,Goa.
Pastor Pandu Ranga.H.Nayak has been faithfully serving the Lord Jesus since 1999. He comes from the Banjaras, a community usually described as nomadic people from the north-western belt of the Indian subcontinent, but are now found also in other areas of India. They are listed as a Scheduled Tribe in India. He currently leads the Gypsy Fellowship in Vasco, a city in the beautiful coastal state of Goa, India. There are over 50 families, amounting up to over 300 people, that regularly gather together to pray and worship Jesus Christ.
The Church meets at a hall for which they pay a rent of Rs15000. Pastor Pandu recently called Persecution Relief to report a difficult circumstance that he is currently facing.
Last Saturday, few Church members assembled at the hall on a Saturday evening to prepare for next day’s Worship service. Venkesh, a youth from the Church, noticed a small group of men hovering around the Church premises. He grew suspicious of their behaviour and kept an eye on them. After the preparations were done, the Church members locked up the premises and left, but the group of men were still nearby and appeared to be conspiring against them.
The next morning,
Pastor started the meeting at 10 am. He lead the congregation into a wonderful time of praise and worship for the next 1 hour. After 11 am, he came up to share from the word of God. He had hardly finished reading from scripture when Venkesh approached him with great concern saying, “ Pastor, a mob of around 150 people from the Banjara community have gathered outside and are creating a raucous.
They want you to step outside” The Pastor immediately accompanied Venkesh to the entrance of the Church building. Upon seeing the Pastor, the mob began accusing him of ruining the Banjara Community. “ Show me one person from the community whom I have ruined!” said the Pastor. “ You are making the members of our community leave our Hindu gods and forcing them to convert to Christianity.” They replied.
“I live in a country that allows me to practice the faith of my choice and propagate it freely. Why does that bother you? The Pastor replied boldly.
The conversation soon turned into a heated argument. “You being a member of our community, turned your back on our faith. Why do you still bare our community name then? You should change your name and leave our community alone.” Said one of the fanatics. “ Ok” said the Pastor,
“I will change my name if there is such a law in our Country.” The mob soon realized that they were being outwitted by the Pastors wisdom, so they began to scream and shout. A few believers of the Church advised the Pastor to leave the crowd alone and continue with the prayer meeting inside.
So the Church members went back inside and began to pray simultaneously as the protests continued outside. The mob soon called their leader, who instigated them to break into the Church building, but the youth of the Church stood shoulder to shoulder and prevented the mob from coming inside.
The tensed congregation sat inside while the Pastor made a phone call to the police as the situation kept getting worse.10 minutes before the police arrived, the mob managed to break through the human barrier and entered the church hall.
The leader of the mob then addressed all the people of the Banjara community who are a part of the Church to step outside the building saying, “if you don’t leave this place right now we will make your lives miserable.”
To his astonishment, nobody moved! Agitated, he then asked some of the fanatics to identify the Banjara Christians. They soon began to recognize them and sent them outside one by one. One of the women named Ratna, was approached by her nephew who was a part of the mob, but she resisted.
The angry nephew then forcefully grabbed her hand to pull her out and gave her a tight slap. Seeing this, the church was shocked. They were so upset with the mobs behaviour that they drove away the fanatics with screams and cries. As the mob tried to escape, they ended up being face to face with the Police who had Just reached the venue.
The Police then brought the situation under control and took away the miscreants. The believers went back in and resumed their meeting, thanking God for the timely intervention of the police.
However, after a short while, a few media persons entered the place. Approaching the Pastor they said, “A person standing below has told us that you tried to bribe and force him to convert to Christianity” The Pastor calmly replied, “ You are free to ask any person sitting in this place if they have been bribed and forced to convert to Christianity.”
The Church members boldly denied all these false allegations, instead they told the media that they willingly come to Church without anyone forcing them, to become better people and experience the peace of God.
The Pastor then gave a statement to the media saying, “ We gather together to acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. We come to experience his peace and offer him all that we can give.”
The media then left and The Pastor concluded the Church service. The Police provided him with protection as he made his way out of the Church premises so that he could safely reach home. A couple of hours after the Pastor reached home, he received a call from the police station saying, “ Brother, please come to the Police Station along with the woman who was slapped by the fanatic.” So Ratna accompanied the Pastor to the Police Station. Once there, the Police began interrogating Pastor Pandu.
The Pastor soon realized that the police were trying to instigate him against filing an FIR(First Information Report) against the fanatics. “We cannot promise that an FIR will solve your problems. You may still face issues from the fanatics even after this. We don’t have a problem with filing it but we suggest you come to a compromise with them so that they don’t harass you in the future.” Said the Police.
The Pastor then explained to the Police that he was not angry with the fanatics nor were they his enemies. “We are Christians and we have forgiven them. We don’t want to complain against them but we want the police to protect us from any future attacks and make sure that they do not cause any more problems for us.” The Pastor explained.
After listening to the Pastor the police agreed to help the Pastor and provide the Church with protection. While the Pastor was at the Police Station, the other believer who had accompanied him received a call that his wife Kavita, a young mother of 2 little children who is also a part of the Church, was picked up by the fanatics from her house while she was asleep and took her to the village head along with her young children.
There, fanatics threatened to boycott her if she did not forsake Christ. Kavita, who had experienced God saving her husband and children from the clutches of death explained to the fanatics that she could never forsake the God who had protected and saved her from harm and adversary. She asked them why none of them had helped her when she was in trouble, to which they all fell silent.
The Pastor reported all this to the Police there and then, they immediately went and helped Kavita and brought her to the Police Station. She told them all that had happened. After hearing her out, the Police went back to the village and picked up the fanatics and brought them to the Police Station.
The Police warned them against harassing any Christians again in the future telling them that they had no right to do so. They Police also made them give this statement in writing and took the signatures of around 10 fanatics.
However, these fanatics did not inform the rest of the mob that they had done so and conspiracies are still being made against other Churches in Goa.
Unfortunately 45 year old Ratna, a lonely widow who gave her life to Jesus 12 years ago, succumbed to the pressure of the fanatics and told the fanatics that she would convert to her prior religion. She has not left her home and has stopped meeting the Pastor and the Church.
When the Pastor recently called her, she told him that she has decided to move to a different state. The Pastor is saddened by this news but has also encouraged his Church to be prepared for persecution and even be martyred for Christ if need be.
Pray for the protection of the Gypsy Church as they gather to meet every Sunday. Pray for the protection of Kavita and her family. Pray that Ratna would return to Jesus and find safety and courage in him.
Pray that the Police would provide the help that they have promised. Pray also for the religious fanatics, that they may soon experience the life changing power of God and turn from their wicked ways.
Psalm 56:8 You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in your book? Nothing is certain in our world, and that can be scary. We must trust in God whenever we are afraid. He always has our best interest in mind and know what we are up against.
When all else seems to fall apart, we can always count on God!
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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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