Religious goons torture lone Pastor, Maharashtra.
A young Pastor was severely tortured and threatened for over 3 hours by religious goons.
Ashok(name changed on request of victim for security reasons) is a Pastor who leads a Church that gathers in a small village in the state of Maharashtra, India. He isactively involved with the members of the Church and regularly moves around nearby villages to evangelise and pray with other fellow believers.
On the 4th of March 2020, he visited a nearby village, which is approximately 30kms away from his village. He visits this village, at least once in 15 days as there are 3 Christian families who reside there. He has been doing this regularly for almost 8 years. He and a couple of other believers were invited by a local doctor who they have been witnessing to for the past couple of years. She requested them to pray at her medical clinic.
After a brief time of prayer, at 12pm in the afternoon, the believers dispersed. As Ashok walked to his motor bike to head home, he was intervened by 4 men. One of the men forcefully took Ashok’s motor bike keys, started the bike and ordered Ashok to sit behind him. Ashok was reluctant at first, but sensing trouble, he complied to their demands.
He was then taken by the men to a lonely place around 2 km away. There, one of the men grabbed Ashok and said, “we have been watching you for the past few years. You are forcefully converting innocent people to Christianity.” Another man snatched Ashok’s mobile phone, took out the memory card and switched it to flight mode. The next 3 hours seemed like eternity for Ashok as the 4 religious goons got together and severely beat him up. They kept asking him to profane the name of Jesus Christ as they mercilessly swung blows across his face. In a state of semi–consciousness, Ashok then faintly seen a car approaching. He hoped that he would be rescued by whoever was in the car, but to his horror, there were 3 more religious fanatics who joined in with his abductors. Together, they carried his limp body and dumped him in their car. They then drove to another secluded place and continued harassing and beating him there.
Being assaulted and threatened at the same time, Ashokcould hear one man say, “ if you tell the police, we will find you and kill you. Don’t even think of filing a complaint. The police know us well, they will let us go. Stop coming to our village and make sure that the Church in your village is also discontinued.” When the fanatics eventually stopped torturing him, one of the younger men grabbed him and picked him up. “These men are crazyand dangerous. Please don’t come back here ever again.” Saying this, he put Ashok on his bike and dropped him off at a spot close to his home.
Narrating the entire incident to Persecution Relief, Ashok has requested our prayers and support. Pray that he would be restored back to good health. Also pray that the persecutors would not harass him, the Church or any body else and have a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ.
Daniel 3:17 says, ‘If the God whom we serve exists, then He is able to deliver us from the blazing fiery furnace and from your hand, O king.’ From the beginning of time right until this moment, God is working tirelessly to draw his children unto himself. Countless testimonies of ordinary people like us who have experienced his extraordinary saving power and grace, prove time and again that God exists! Never loose hope and keep trusting in his amazing grace!
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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