Hindu nationalists have unleashed a wave of torment and oppression to the Body of Christ in recent weeks as COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted in India.
According to International Christian Concern (ICC), a Christian based human rights organization, in just two weeks, there have been at least eight incidents of Hindu nationalists threatening and physically assaulting Christians as well as inflicting damage to Christian owned properties.
One incident in particular had a pastor suffer a brutal beatdown by a mob of nearly 150 Hindus as he was praying for a sick person on the morning of June 21.
“They kicked me like they would kick a football,” Pastor Suresh Rao told ICC. “They dragged me into the street and pushed me to the ground. There, they started to trample on me.”
He continued, “They tore my clothes, kicked me all over my body, and punched my left eye. I have sustained a serious eye injury as a result of a blood clot.”
Pastor Rao, who also functions as a church planter, noted that the mob told him that he was conducting illegal conversions of Hindus to Christians.
“They said that India is a Hindu nation, and there is no place for Christians,” Rao explained.
“I am prepared for this kind of eventuality,” Pastor Rao, who has dealt with multiple counts of persecution beforehand. “I know the cost of serving Jesus in these remote villages, and I will continue to serve the people of this region.
A separate incident in India’s Tamil Nadu state featured the burning down of a church by anonymous individuals on June 11. About 100 church members are now without a house of worship.
“I was so distressed and pained in my heart,” Pastor Ramesh, head pastor of Real Peace Church, told ICC. “It was hard labor for 10 years to build the church. All the hard work and sacrificial donations from the poor congregants were brought down to the ground. All that is left is ash.”
One church member added that they couldn’t save anything from the church as, “all the furniture, musical instruments, pulpit, and offering box was completely burned.”
“In the last ten years, I have been told numerous times by radicals to close the church,” Pastor Ramesh added. “By God’s grace, I was able to endure all these hardships and abuses, but this time it is total devastation.”
Then on June 13, members of Laymen Evangelical Fellowship Church faced threats from Hindu nationalists as their church reopened afer being on lockdown for 3 months.
Believers were told by the radicals not to pray or congregate on the premises of the church, Pastor Augustine told ICC. Reportedly, the Christians were also being accused of spreading COVID-19 to non-believers.
“We don’t know what future holds. However, we are concerned that the radicals will not allow us to have a church service,” Pastor Augustine said.
India is ranked 10 on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where Christians endure persecution.
The watchdog organization noted that Hindi nationalists assert that “to be Indian is to be Hindu, so any other faith—including Christianity—is viewed as non-Indian.”
Additionally, “converts to Christianity from Hindu backgrounds or tribal religions are often extremely persecuted by their family members and communities.”
Photo courtesy: Photos Pixels/Pixabay
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.