Sunday service disrupted, women and children beaten, Maharashtra
The piercing and shrill cries of women , being beaten and dragged by their hair, disrupted the peaceful Sunday morning, as religious fanatics stormed a Church and indiscriminately attacked Christians, who had congregated for Worship service.
On Sunday, 24th February, around 70 believers were attacked; men brutally beaten with lathis and punched with fists; women dragged by their hair and thrown out of the prayer hall at Virar East, Virar, in Palghar district of Maharashtra state.
Pastor Jayanti Bhai & Pastor Nilesh Thakur minister at one of the Church branches. Radical right-wing religious fanatics, belonging to a prominent religious outfit, stormed the Church, attacking the Pastors and members of the congregation, falsely alleging that conversion activities were taking place. The mob forcibly stopped the worship service and Holy Communion (breaking of bread), resorting to violence and intimidation with impunity. They also misbehaved and molested the women who were present.
Speaking to Persecution Relief, Pastor Emmanuel Kingsley mentioned that he started the “House of Prayer” Church in Gadga-para, Virar East, Virar, in Palghar district of Maharashtra state. In 2014, 4 branches were established near the outskirts of Virar.
“Religious fanatics are fanning the flames of division, resorting to violence and vandalism, with the silent approval of the Administration and Police. This is sending a message that a particular community are worth more than others. This must be strongly denounced”, he added.
Local Christian Leaders – i.e. Advocate Wilson Nathan, Dr. Abraham Mathai, including members of Christi Sena Maharashtra, representing this persecuted Church, reached the local Police Station to file a FIR. However, they were shocked to see the persecutors already assembled there and narrating a skewed story to the Police. The radical fanatics tried to influence the Police, using the common rhetoric – the Christians were involved in conversion activities.
Eventually, the Police lodged a complaint against the persecutors under IPC Sections :143,147,323,504,506 were filed against the Persecutors.
The Local landowner, instigated by religious fanatics, are now pressurizing Pastor Emmanuel Kingsley, to vacate the building that houses the Church.
Church, let’s all pray in one accord for a divine intervention.
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you”. (Matthew 5:10-12)
Pray that the believers will rest secure knowing that God is still in control of their lives, able to give them joy, peace and courage through these storms.
Church, pray for Haryana and the local leaders so that peace prevails in the city. 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!
In 2018, Persecution Relief recorded 477 incidents of violence against Christians, of which 16 incidents were from the state of Maharashtra.
In January 2019, 45 incidents of persecution against Christians have already been recorded.
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