An Indian pastor and his pregnant wife were assaulted and their church set on fire on Sunday 17 April after they refused to praise a Hindu god.
Pastor Dinbanhu Sameli, 30, and his wife, Meena, 26, seven months pregnant, lead a church in the troubled Bastar district of the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
Two young men approached the pastor outside his home next to his church at around 7pm, initially asking for prayer, claiming they were from a nearby Methodist church. But they later brought out a sword which they held to the pastor’s neck, and demanded the couple shout the phrase, “Jai Shri Ram” (Victory to the god Ram).
“Where is your Jesus?” the two men demanded; Sameli replied “We believe that He is with us.” When asked, “Why don’t you believe in Ram?” the husband and wife remained silent.
When the couple refused to praise Ram and also refused to stamp on a Bible, the two men took a litre of petrol and set fire to the church, including musical equipment.
Sameli said he “felt fear in his heart” with the sword on his shoulder, but “prayed that God would save him.”
As the church burned, the couple fled and filed a report with the police.
The incident took place in the remote village of Karanji, in the Tokapal area of the sprawling Bastar district, which has seen several recent incidents of anti-Christian violence at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists.
Source: World Watch Monitor
- Thank the Lord that the couple are safe and, though they were understandably frightened, they remained faithful.
- Pray the police will bring the perpetrators to justice and do all they can to protect minorities in the future. Pray for the perpetrators; may they remember the witness of this couple and be moved by it.
- May the church continue to meet together and do so joyfully and without fear. May this incident encourage others to be courageous for the Gospel.