Pastor & Believers beaten up multiple times in the last few months, Gujrat
Christians are known to gather together, mostly on Sunday’s for a couple of hours to worship the Lord Jesus Christ, fellowship with each other, pray for the nation of India, pray for the believers who are sick etc. These gatherings also include singing of songs, listening to God’s word i.e. the Bible and encouraging each other by testifying about his goodness.
Similarly, Pastor Kanu Bhai had gathered around 30 Christians at a fellow believers home by the name of Ranja Bhai to pray and worship together. This was taking place at a village called Dehda that features in the district of Dahod in the Indian state of Gujarat.
While the meeting was in progress, a group of religious fanatics furiously barged into the meeting and began beating anyone they could get a hold of, sparing the believers no revilement. Pastor Kanu and Chinya Bhai were badly injured during this assault. The fanatics left after threatening them to never hold any more meetings in the village again.
The Police were called and after speculating, they took 4 Christians by the names of Chinya Bhai, Nagesh Bhai, Ranji Bhai and Moji Bhai to the police station. As this incident is being brought to light, these men face scrutiny and are at the leniency of the Police.
For those of us who have never encountered this kind of persecution in our lives, let us show our gratitude to our Heavenly Father by praying and lifting up our grieving brothers and sisters in Christ.
Below you will find a story that we posted earlier this year. This incident happened to the same group of people that are mentioned in the above narration. We urge you to give it a read to understand the depth of persecution that our fellow believers are facing.
25 February 2019, Gujarat.
Pastor Kanu works for a mission headed by
Pastor T. A. Samuel, Head of Immanuel Fellowship Ministries in India [IFMI],
For the past 8 years, Pastor Kanu, who is affiliated to IFMI Ministries, ministers to around 25 families, who gather together at a believer’s residence for Sunday Worship in a village called Dehda in the district of Dahod located in the Indian state of Gujarat.
Things had been peaceful for all these years, but in the recent past, people from other faiths have willingly committed to following the teachings of Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christians in the village were facing a lot of harassment and intimidation from the local villagers. Insulted, abused, beaten without any provocation and forced to worship their hindu gods, tension had been simmering among the villagers because the Christians were not worshipping their gods.
In Feb 25th 2019 Instigated by religious fanatics in the area, local villagers summoned the 25 families, and assembled in front of the courtyard of the temple. They were accused of defiling the village and their gods. In reparation, puja was performed and each family was asked to break a coconut and eat the special “prasad” (vegetarian food that was offered to the idols, normally consumed by worshippers after worship).
These Christians refused the prasad as per Bible teaching and individual’s conscience, insisting on exercising their Christian freedom in the matter of eating food.
This enraged the religious fanatics and villagers, who decided to take the law into their own hands and punish the “impure” Christians.
The local villagers surrounded and thrashed them with lathis. The young and able-bodied ran away, while the elderly and women folk with young children, bore the brunt of this malicious and unprovoked attack. 7 families were brutally beaten up.
The matter was reported to the Village Headman, chosen by the people, who administers the rights, rules and ceremonies of the village.
Listening to the story, the village headman who is expected to be unbiased, was prejudiced towards the majority community and manipulated by the local religious fanatics, decreed the following coercive practice on the families:
1) The 25 Christian families must pay a cash fine of ₹45,000/- and provide a live goat, as a sacrificial offering to appease their god
2) The families were forbidden to gather for Sunday worship service going forward.
The village headman alleged that the Christians had diminished the power of their temple gods. He also alleged that the traditional dignity and identity of the temple, had been defiled, polluted and made impure by the Christian God. Therefore, to restore the sacredness of their gods, the spilling of blood was necessary as purification, in the belief that it will appease their gods.
Instead of going to the Police – who usually try not to interfere in the village affairs, and fearing further harassment, the Christians surrendered to the injustice and the sentence passed by the community assembly. While they have vehemently refused to participate in the prescribed cleansing ceremonies, they have consented to pay for the cost of the goat and the penalty levied upon them, so as to avoid being excommunicated and accepted back into the community.
Uprooting their lives and livelihood, relocating from the area, giving up their ancestral property and homes and livestock, is something that these families want to avoid.
Speaking to persecution Relief, Pastor Mark, who is in-charge of IFMI, mentioned that the families were economically backward. Pastor Kanu, borrowed money from local Money Lenders on interest, to pay the Village Headman.
“The families are demoralized in their spirit and discouraged that they cannot gather to worship on Sunday’s at the village again”.
This shameful and illegal incident, raises serious questions over the functioning and competency of the Village Council authority, where religion becomes the tool of oppression over an economically weaker and powerless minority group.
Last Sunday, these families travelled around 5 kms to the neighbouring village for Sunday Worship service.
Church, while we sit in our Air-conditioned Halls and Auditoriums, 1000’s of our brothers and sisters in Christ, are oppressed and harassed, every Sunday, just to gather under a shed and worship. The Bible records that when a fellow Christian faces persecution, grief, or trials, we hurt as if we’re experiencing that pain.
“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it”. – 1 Corinthians 12:26
In the body of Christ, someone’s pain must ignite our compassion and move us toward action. We might pray, offer a word of encouragement, or do whatever it takes to aid the healing process. That’s how the body works together.
Church, pray for Christians in Gujarat and for the peace of God to prevail in the State. Many Christians live in such hostile situations, denying them their Constitutional Right and Freedom of religion and Belief. Pray that believers will continue to stand strong in their faith and that none should be lost.
Let us be united in one Spirit and stand with the Persecuted Church in India, in an hour like this!
Persecution Relief has recorded 330 incidents of hate crime against Christians in 2016, 440 incidents in 2017, 477 incidents in 2018 and till September 2019 we have recorded 349 incidents of Christian Persecution against Christians in India.
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