Idol forcefully installed Inside Church premises, Haryana.
An idol of a Hindu deity was forcefully placed by a group of religious extremists inside the premises of a Church centre which belongs to Grace Assembly of God Church, Faridabad, a city in Haryana, a northern state in India. The group claimed that a Hindu temple initially stood on the property and was torn down to erect a Church building.
Pastor Ivan Powar, the Chairman of The Assemblies of God of North India and the Founder/Senior Pastor of Grace Assembly of God Church, Faridabad Haryana, spoke to Persecution Relief about this incident that took place on the 21st of June 2020. Hesaid that the renovation work of the Centre had just begun after lock down rules were relaxed, but being a Sunday, there was no work going on.
“During the latter part of the day, A group of religious extremists broke down a wall and the gate of our Church building Centre, entered the premises and placed a Hindu idol there. They then gathered around it and began to worship the idol. Two pastors who were at the property were stunned to see what was happening and rushed to question them about their actions, but instead they were abused and beaten up by the Hindu extremists” he exclaimed.
Pastor Varun was one of the Pastors that was present when this happened. He immediately called up Persecution Relief to report the matter to us as he had faced persecution in the past and Persecution Relief had helped him then.
After being briefed about the attack, Persecution Relief called up the (ACP) Assistant Commissioner of Police- Rajeev Kumar, SurajKund, FBD and informed him about the incident. Taking Pastor Varun’s number from Persecution Relief, the ACP immediately alerted the Station Head Officer and instructed him to address the issue.
The SHO called up Pastor Varun and soon a team of police men reached the spot. Pastor Varun said that the Religious extremists complained to the police that the Church building was erected after a Hindu temple was torn down by the Christians. Hence, they had returned to reclaim the property. The Police then started to interrogate the neighbours to dig deeper, but the neighbours told the Police that there has never been a Hindu temple on the property.
Pastor Varun further explained that the Police soon summoned the previous owner of the property. When asked about the allegations of the Hindu extremists, he said, “I am 45 years old and I was born here, I grew up here and it was my house. These Christians were doing a wonderful work in this slum. This place was suitable for their work as it was the center of the slum so I sold it to them and moved out.”
Sensing the gravity of the situation, the same evening Persecution Relief requested an appointment between the ACP and the Pastors for the next day at 11am. The people who placed the idol inside the Church premises were also called to the ACP’s Office.
Briefing us about his experience, Pastor Uday said, “When I was called into the ACP’s office, I knew that I was entering the room with legions of angels. I knew that God was with me so there was no doubt or fear in my heart. Instead I had the confidence that I would come out victorious because He was with me. Like it was with Shadrach Meshack and Abednego, they were bombarding me with allegation upon allegation but I was just quiet and praying in my spirit. I Prayed, God you give me the wisdom and strength to take these blows right now. It is your battle and victory will be ours.”
Pastor Uday further stated that ACP Rajeev Kumar reasoned out with both parties there. Since the Pastors had documents of possession, he asked the other party to peacefully remove the idol from the place so that no religious sentiments are hurt.
Later that day, Persecution Relief received a call from the ACP. He said, “I have sent the officials to the land and we have identified that this property belongs to the Railways. We have now handed over the case to the Superintendent of the Railways and I will personally follow up on it.”
“For years we have been paying the electricity bill of the property as well. So, this was very unusual” said Pastor Ivan. He added that for more than 15 years, they have been running a children’s programme in this large slum in the city of Faridabad and look after 150 children there. “However, during the Covid-19 crisis, we also reached out to support daily wage workers from this slum who had lost their jobs. There were certain people from the community who were overwhelmed by this” he said.
Pastor Ivan mentioned that a storekeeper of a government run ration shop got upset with them because they were distributing food to the poor. He took objection and stopped them, but even the locals got upset and fought with him saying, “if they are helping us why are u stopping them?” The Pastors of the Grace Assemblies of God Church believe that it is the envious shop keeper who instigated this trouble because the locals were not buying ration from him as they were getting free ration from them.
In an Interview with Persecution Relief, Pastor Ivan said, “The Church should know that we should stand as one, regardless of the denomination. If one of my brothers is going through pain, I need to stand with him. If we do that, then I think we are a force to reckon with, because not only do we have a large number of people who follow the faith but also people who are compassionate towards these things. People of other religions understand when atrocities are done to people who follow the Lord Jesus Christ. We are a peace-loving people who do not take up arms but yet we do take these things seriously, so I would request everyone to stand in Unity.”
He further added, “Rather than panicking, I think we should turn to this wonderful ministry that Brother Shibu is heading. He has people all across the nation of India that are ready to help in this matter. I think, that is what is required rather than panicking and thinking that we are alone. Obviously, God is with us but we also have a nation that has a law and order in place. We can take that route.”
Talking to Persecution Relief about the Power of Prayer, Pastor Uday shared, “When we expect answers from God, He will never ignore us. If we expect a miracle from Him, we will definitely see it. That’s exactly what we have seen in this whole event. Since yesterday we have been praying, ‘God you are in control and you will give us an answer.’ I strongly believe that the favour of the Lord over ACP Rajeev is also an answer to prayer. In the days to come, we will definitely see the work of God grow there.”
Pastor Uday also comes from the Hindu faith and from the highest caste in the Hindu religion. He spoke to Persecution Relief about a false and dangerous narrative about Christians ‘converting’ Hindus in India which is widespread, misunderstood and must be stopped for the sake of peace.“There was never a conversion in my life. I had a direct encounter with Jesus Christ.”
He further stated, “I was into all the various rituals and beliefs of my previous faith, but I never had peace. But the day I had an encounter with Jesus Christ, there was a peace that surpassed all human understanding and it went beyond all bounds. I was working as an engineer with Xerox and then gave up my job in 1996 to get into full time ministry. I am 49 years old now but I have been serving the Lord for the past 28 years of my life and it has been a wonderful walk with Jesus.”
Appreciating the Persecution Relief family, he said, “I want to thank Persecution Relief who stood by us through it all and every one for their valuable prayers. Every Christian should come out victorious in these battles. We want to specially thank God for bringing Brother Shibu Thomas our way.”
Since Sunday- the 21st of June 2020, countless prayers have been made towards this cause. Scores of Christians responded in prayer after listening to Pastor Ivan Powar speaking to Persecution Relief on social media and receiving the Prayer Request circulated by Persecution Relief. Many even suggested different options, including making a police complaint against the religious fanatics. However, Persecution Relief believes in Serving the Persecuted and Loving the Persecutor!
Christian Persecution is no more confined to remote places and villages. It is now widely reported in cities as well. If you live in India, do not be under the assumption that persecution is nowhere near you. This attack happened in the city, imagine what is being done in villages. God has given Persecution Reliefa clear directive of warning the Church about the tribulations that lie ahead. We still have some time to prepare ourselves. Every Shepherd must guard and fortify his flock.
We commend Pastor Ivan Powar for standing with his flock at ground level and walking with them through this ordeal. We are in desperate need of leaders like these who are not just mere spectators but who get into the nitty gritty of things and support the persecuted flock.
After listening to the Persecution Relief interview with Pastor Uday, Pastor D Mohan called him up to pray with him and encourage him. These little acts of kindness not only build up the persecuted but also give us- the Persecution Relief family, the assurance that Christian Leaders across the country are taking time out from their busy schedules and making an effort to stand with the Persecuted Church- the very ones who are in desperate need of God’s love and Comfort.
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