Religious fanatics frame and harass Church leader in Gujarat
Vapi Christian Assembly is a congregation of the Brethren Assembly and was established in 1988 at Vapi, a city in Valsad district of Gujarat state.
Evangelist Jose Dali, 63 years of age, has been ministering here for more than 30 years. Around 60 Christian believers gather here every Sunday to worship. The ground floor of the building is used for church activities and Jose, along with his family, lives on the 1st floor.
On the morning of 17th March, 2019, the believers gathered as usual for the Sunday worship. The worship service is divided into two parts – during the initial part, the congregation worships together, and after a tea break the adults gather for the adult Bible class, the children gather for Sunday school classes and sisters come together for the sisters’ meeting.
At around 11:45 am, Evangelist Jose heard someone knocking at the main gate, and found two ladies standing at the gate. He welcomed them in. They introduced themselves as Christians from Ramnagar in Uttar Pradesh state.
They joined the adult Bible class, and after a few minutes the Bible class concluded and everyone was leaving for home. The sisters remained in the veranda for some time and then asked for some christian tracts. The church members handed over a tract on the 4 gospels. Soon everyone left, and as Evangelist Jose was not keeping well, he went upstairs to take rest.
In the evening around 6:45 pm, when Evangelist Jose was was leaving for a YMCA meeting, his Hindu neighbors said that two boys and two ladies came in a rickshaw and threw some things in front of the church. The items included an idol of a Hindu god, incense sticks, an incense stand and some pictures. Evangelist Jose said, ‘I don’t know what it is, if you want, you can take it.” They said that they did not want it, so he left it there and went for the YMCA meeting and returned late in the night.
“On 18th March, 2019, I went out with my wife for some personal work and later joined some pastors for some other work. I received a call from a Pastor’s wife who was known to us. She said that there was a mob in front of our house and that there was some problem.
“As soon as I reached my house, around fifty people belonging to various religious and political groups were waiting in front of my house. Then we left for the GIDC police station and there too neighbors and fanatics were present. They accused me of conversion. I kept defending myself saying I hadn’t converted anyone. I had been living in this neighborhood for the past 40 years.The police officials then accompanied me in their jeep to my home. Within a short time the number of fanatics rose to around 300 people. When they saw me they started accusing me. They said, ‘You call Hindus and ask them to throw their idols and then convert them.’ They made many such accusations against me and threatened to beat and kill me. They said they would demolish the church building and build a temple there. I told them that I respected all religions and haven’t done any wrong to anyone.” said Evangelist Jose.
Reporters from local channels were also present and they reported that the GIDC Vapi church was converting people to Christianity and dishonoring their deities.
Christians gathering to worship in their private properties is being treated as a crime in India. Religious fanatics take the law into their own hands and do what they want to with the help of the local politicians and the tacit support of police.
Persecution Relief has recorded more than 477 persecution incidents in 2018 across the 29 states of India. In 2019 alone we have recorded more than 110 hate crime cases against Christians. The doors of a multitude of churches have been sealed and scores of people arrested on false charges of indulging in conversion activities.
Church, Pray earnestly for the safety of Evangelist Jose and his family!
Speaking to Persecution Relief Evg Jose said, I have no anger against the Persecutors, I have forgiven all of them in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
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