Contact: Taun Cortado, Gospel for Asia, 800-946-2742
CARROLLTON, Texas, April 16 /Christian Newswire/ -- Attacks on Christians in India intensified throughout the recent Easter season. Two Gospel for Asia missionaries and several members of a GFA-affiliated church were targeted in one of the recently-reported attacks.
Missionaries Chandan Chhinchhadi and Dinesh Toppo were attacked in their home around 2 p.m. on Easter Sunday. The two men had conducted Easter services at a GFA-affiliated church earlier in the day and were resting at their home when five anti-Christian extremists stormed in and began harassing them. The attackers beat the pastors for more than an hour while accusing them of forcing people to convert to Christianity and various other crimes.
The attackers even dragged our pastors to the market at the center of the village in an attempt to humiliate them.
The next day, the pastors tried to report the incident to the local authorities, but the extremists prevented them from entering the police station. The extremists even filed a false report against the pastors. That same day, the police came to Chandan and Dinesh and said that, for their own safety they should come to the police station. They also brought along three believers from the church. However, once they reached the police station, all of them were arrested and they were put in jail.
GFA leaders from a nearby office came to the police station late that night and pleaded with officials to release the pastor and believers, who were innocent of any crime. The police agreed to release them, but for their own safety would not let them go that night. During the time the pastor and believers were in jail, two truckloads of anti-Christian extremists had gathered outside the police station and were waiting to attack the Christians. A few hours later the situation calmed down and the pastor and believers were released and taken to a regional GFA facility for their own safety.
The next day, the GFA leaders once again attempted to file a police report about the beatings, but the police refused to accept the report.
Complicating matters for the five who were arrested is the fact that one of them, a woman who is a government employee, is being singled out for threats—the extremists are trying to have her fired from her job.
The extremists are also inciting the villagers, telling them to kill the believers and to burn down their homes.
This incident comes just one week after children in a Gospel for Asia Bridge of Hope center in Manipur, India, were caught in the crossfire of a gun battle between opposing insurgent groups.
This is not the first time Christians in India have faced persecution during the Easter season. On Easter Sunday 2006, anti-Christian extremists stormed into a GFA-affiliated church in Karnataka, India, and attacked the GFA missionary who serves there. The extremists also attacked about 35 believers in the church, including the women and children. They even ransacked the church, the pastor's home and his vehicle.
Several other Easter-related attacks were reported this year in India, including:
- Anti-Christian extremists attacked Christians who were praying at another church in Madhya Pradesh on Palm Sunday.
- In another area of Madhya Pradesh, extremists attacked a group comprised mostly of children during a Palm Sunday procession. Two people in that group suffered serious head injuries as a result of the attack.
- In Andhra Pradesh, an unidentified group brutally attacked a Christian worker while he was returning from a Lenten prayer meeting at a believer's home. The attackers covered the man's face with a mask and tortured him for three hours, while accusing him of being a terrorist. They dragged the man to a schoolyard where they continued to beat him and tried to strangle him.
- Uttar Pradesh police arrested a Christian pastor on false charges on Maundy Thursday. The pastor was charged with paying families to convert to Christianity. The pastor was jailed for one day and ordered to pay a small fine before being released.
Gospel for Asia missionaries and leaders in Madhya Pradesh request prayer for God's intervention and protection of the believers who were arrested on Easter and the days following. They have all now returned to their homes, but are living under threat of continued violence. Pray especially for the government employee whose job is in danger. The believers and pastors also need prayer for strength and boldness as they live under continued threats from the extremists.
The believers and leaders in Madhya Pradesh are asking God to grant them favor from the police. They also request prayer that God would change the hearts of the extremists who are persecuting them and that the extremists would come to know Jesus.
Gospel for Asia is a mission organization involved in evangelism and church planting in Asia's unreached regions. Currently Gospel for Asia supports more than 16,000 church planters in 10 countries. On average, these missionaries establish approximately 10 fellowships every day among unreached villages and people groups. Gospel for Asia is also committed to training native missionaries. The organization's 54 Bible colleges are preparing nearly 9,000 students to become full-time church planters.