A Christian Greeting Turns into a Night of Terror for Christians in Southern India
William Stark, Regional Manager for South Asia
07/29/2015 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In January 2015, Christians in a village in southern India were brutally assaulted by Hindu radicals. In response to the crisis faced by this Christian community, International Christian Concern (ICC) was able to replace the Bibles these Christians lost in the assault, by doing so, and also brought this persecuted community a sense of hope and encouragement. Nirmala and her husband, Pastor John Victor, live in Kuntluru, a village outside of Hyderabad, India. They have lived in the village for 15 years after they were forced to leave their native village with their only son.
On January 30, around 7 p.m., Nirmala was returning home from praying with a woman in a neighboring village. On her way, she met another Christian woman, Kalavathi, and they exchanged the Christian greeting, “Praise the Lord”. Their greeting was overheard by some youth who the Christians later discovered belong to a Hindu radical group. The youth immediately began to verbally abuse the Christian women, who did not respond as the youths outnumbered them and were very angry.
The next morning, Nirmala and her husband awoke to over forty Hindu radicals surrounding their house, chanting anti-Christian slogans. “They were shouting at me using bad language. They said, ‘You better hang yourself and die instead of bringing shame to [the] Hindu religion,'” Nirmala told ICC, crying. “They used the kind vulgar language that even I [wanted] to die.”
Nirmala and her husband were then threatened by the radicals, who told them to, “either leave the village or be ready to die if you [continue to] follow Jesus.” They continued,”We will spare you if you come back to Hinduism and start [to] worship Hindu gods.” The radicals also told Nirmala that she and her family had abandoned the motherland, India, by believing in a foreign religion. They threatened to take the family’s ration card and to destroy the house. The abuse continued for over an hour; after which the radicals attacked Kalavathi’s house.
After verbally abusing Nirmala and her family for over an hour, the radicals proceeded to Kalavathi’s house and forced themselves inside the home. There they threw all the Bibles and pieces of Christian literature they could find outside and burned them. Kalavathi was also warned by the radicals to leave Christianity and return to Hinduism.
After the incident, the Christian families submitted a complaint to the police, who arrested eight of the people from the mob. Since then, those eight people have been released from prison on bail and are still living in the same village as the Christians they attacked.
When ICC learned of this incident, we determined to help the believers in Kuntluru. ICC arranged with Pastor John that 25 Telugu Bibles would be purchased to replace the ones destroyed by the radicals during the January attack. When the Bibles were purchased, they were delivered to the Kuntluru church by an ICC representative who took that opportunity to reassess the persecution faced by the Christians of Kuntluru.
Upon delivery, Pastor John and his church were extremely thankful for the simple assistance. “The help from ICC in the form of Bibles is very encouraging to me and to my congregation. We are a small Church with few believers and are extremely glad,” Pastor John said when sharing some words of thanks.”The message of the Bible is love and the act of spreading the scriptures resembles the forgiving heart.”
Sadly, ICC has discovered that the situation in Kuntluru has not improved for the Christians. Pastor John told ICC that many have stopped coming to church since the attack, fearing further assaults. Nirmala and Pastor John continue to face threats for their faith. They have asked for continued prayers for their safety as well as that of the entire church during this time, especially for those who are kept away from the church by fear.
“The assistance from ICC comforts us, and also helps to boost us to carry on the church activities continuously once again thank you so much for the help and assistance, more so for the thoughtful gestures,” Pastor John said recently.
Please remember Christian communities like these who face persecution simply because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Despite the threats, assaults, and fear, these communities continue to worship and stay faithful. Help ICC remain faithful to them through prayer and giving to ICC’s funds dedicated to assisting the persecuted around the world.