In 2016 Pastor Kabir was dragged off a bus on his way home from church and brutally beaten while attackers repeatedly asked him to deny Christ. During the attack he stood firm in his faith, continually saying, “I am going to serve the Lord only.”
Pastor Kabir finished leading a prayer service at Saviour’s Church in the heart of one of India’s slums. He then left his congregation of 40 believers at around 9pm and boarded a bus to travel home to his wife and their two daughters, just as he did every Sunday evening.
This time, however, four men followed the young pastor. The men, all members of a youth militia called Hindu Yuva Vahini, stopped the bus 5km from Kabir’s home, dragged him off and kidnapped him.
They took him to an empty building, where they planned to force him to deny Jesus on video. This is a practice of many Hindu nationalist groups who seek to forcibly reconvert people who leave Hinduism.
The men surrounded the pastor, brutally kicking and punching him for 15 minutes. One of them repeatedly hit him on the head with the handle of a knife, and with each blow Kabir pleaded with God to spare his life, pledging to serve Him more zealously if he survived.
As the pastor lay on the floor bleeding, one of his attackers began to record the beating with his smartphone. Another man ordered Kabir to say that he would no longer follow Jesus and that he would return to Hinduism and worship its idols again.
“I am going to serve the Lord only,” Kabir replied. “I am not going to worship idols. I am going to serve Jesus.”
The men again beat the pastor and demanded that he deny Christ for the video but he refused. The pattern of demands, refusals and beatings continued for 90 minutes, until the men finally grew tired and frustrated with Kabir’s stubbornness.
“You are converting everybody to Christianity here. Tomorrow, if I see you again holding a Bible, I will kill you.”
They then burned Kabir’s Bible and let him go.
One of the attackers put Kabir on his motorcycle, took him about a kilometre away and told him to get off the bike. Disoriented, bleeding and in severe pain, Kabir called a friend to pick him up and take him home.
When Kabir returned home hours later, his wife and daughters were shocked to see him bloodied and bruised.
In that moment, despite the pain from the beating, Kabir decided he wouldn’t let the attack stop him from serving the Lord.
“God has spared my life, so I will forgive the attackers and not report them,” Kabir thought. “I will double the work I am presently doing for the Lord.”
Still in pain the next morning, Kabir went to hospital discovering he had a ruptured eardrum in his left ear, a tear in his right ear and a fractured skull. He would need multiple surgeries.
“I felt like my ears were gone,” he said. “There was no sound and my head was very heavy.”
As Kabir recovered from his injuries, a friend discovered that the attackers had posted a video of the incident on a closed Hindu Yuva Vahini Facebook page. The video had been edited to make it appear that Kabir had reconverted to Hinduism.
A pastors’ network reported the video to authorities and the four men were arrested.
“I am praying for them every day,” Kabir said, “that they should be saved, come to church and accept Christ. If I see them, I will go and tell them, ‘God loves you and I am praying for you.’”
Kabir has pastored some of India’s poorest Christians for 12 years, and never experienced persecution before this attack. Now, having stood boldly for Christ he is ready to do more for God’s kingdom.
“I have grown in my faith,” he said a month after the attack.
“If it happens again in the future, I am not scared. Whatever God wants, let Him do. If I am here, I will keep doing the work. If I die, I go to His kingdom.”
Since then, his church has grown to 60 members, his outreach ministry has doubled and he now ministers in two villages. Earlier this year, Voice of the Martyrs gave him a bicycle to help him keep up with his growing ministry.
Like Kabir, his wife Ishita knows that God will be with her family if they face more persecution.
“I am not scared because God has told us that He is always with us and He is going to protect us.”
The couple’s daughters also have gained a new perspective on their faith since the attack.
“Whatever happens, God is there; He will protect us,” said 15-year-old Vanya. “I am not going to put my faith down. I am happy that Dad is safe.”
“I am happy with my father’s faith,” added 13-year-old Myra. “I want my father to do more work. We are not going to lose our faith. We are going to serve the Lord in the future.”
VOM was also able to help pay for Kabir’s medical care and while surgery restored his left ear, doctors were unable to repair the damage to his right ear and he now requires a hearing aid. Kabir asks that Christians pray for his family and for his continued healing. He also requests prayer for his attackers and for the very poor people whom he serves.
Kabir is committed to pastoring and serving the poor, following Christ’s example.
“In the Christian life there is persecution,” Kabir said. “Now God has allowed me to taste it.”
If you would like to financially support front line worker, like Kabir, please go to: vom.com.au/flm