Pastor falsely accused of dishonouring Idol, Uttar Pradesh.
Religious extremists deviously enter Pastor’s home, plant an idolunder his bed and falsely accuse him of dishonouring their god by keeping it there.
Apart from leading a small House Church, Pastor Sanjay Raj also runs a school. Pastor and his family live in the district ofKanpur which features in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India.
On the morning of 09/02/2020, local Christians gathered at the Pastors residence to partake in the Sunday Worship Service.While the service was in progress, a group of around 12 people walked into the Pastors home and asked if they could also join in with the rest of the Church to pray. The Pastor gladly welcomed them and continued with the worship service.
At around 11.00am, Pastor Sanjay concluded the service with a final prayer. As the believers got up to greet each other, the 12 visitors suddenly turned unfriendly. They approached the Pastor and maliciously blamed him of converting people to Christianity. The Pastor and the Christians were shocked and taken by surprise at the sudden turn of events. As the commotion began to escalate, the police suddenly came by. One of the extremists made a bogus allegation to the Police, saying that the Pastor had thrown idols under his bed to deliberately dishonour them. The Pastor boldly denied the act as he had not done such a thing. When the Police looked under the bed, they found an idol hidden there.
Pastor Sanjay and the rest of the church members sank intocomplete oblivion. They could not believe what they were witnessing. This was definitely a conniving device by the religious extremists, to put the Pastor and his church in trouble.
The Police who were being instigated by the fanatics, immediately took Pastor Sanjay Raj, his wife Renuka Singh, Mr.Vikash Lyall & Ms.Premseen to the Chakeri police station.The Pastor and the others were booked under IPC 295A(Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs)and 153A (the offence of promoting disharmony, enmity or feelings of hatred between different groups on the grounds of religion).
As soon as this matter came to light, local Pastor, Ashish Singh, promptly called up Persecution Relief to inform us about the incident and many Christians began to pray for this situation. The Pastor and the rest were detained at the police station until2am in the morning, after which they were allowed to go home.
On 10/02/2020, Persecution Relief spoke to Pastor Sanjay Raj while he was on his way to the Police Station to attend to bail formalities. He was at peace and rejoicing in God’s faithfulness towards him and the Church. “Initially, I used to conduct the worship service at my school. Since then, the extremists have been harassing me and also persecuting the members of the Church. Last week, I shifted it to my home. When this incident happened, around 15 believers were in attendance.” He told us, while requesting prayers.
The President of the ‘Local Pastors Association’ -Pastor Johnson, Pastor Ashish and other leaders displayed great love and unity by staying at the Police Station and supporting Pastor Sanjay and the rest, until they were released.
Pray that Pastor Sanjay Raj and his Church would grow in strength and wisdom and be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. That they may always experience Gods presence and protection. Pray that the group of 12 religious extremists would soon come to know Jesus Christ and be saved by his amazing grace.
‘With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng. For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save him from those who condemn him to death.’ Psalms 109:30-31. We have all felt feelings of resentment rising up within us, especially when we hear stories like these. But God helps us to have confidence in the fact that He knows how to work these things out, and that we do not need to retaliate. Rather it is the Lord, His great cause and His great name which needs to be vindicated and justified. May we always turn these issues over to Him and quietly go on trusting Him, just as Jesus did, to work it out for His Father’s glory.
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.
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