A Christian father in India was beaten into a coma by tribal animists angered by his dedication to sharing the Gospel with villagers amid worsening persecution in the country.
On 12 March, a mob of 60 villagers in Odisha state’s Kodalmetla village, Malkangiri District, stormed the home of 30-year-old Kama Sodi, his wife, and their two young children.
The animist mob – worshipers of the gods of their tribal religion – beat Kama with wooden sticks until he fell unconscious, his wife, Bhimeshwari Sodi, said.
Christian leaders arrived to find Kama still lying unconscious, his family around him weeping, Pastor Timuthiyus Elijah said.
Local pastors arranged for Kama to be taken to the Malkangiri Government Hospital. Despite falling into a coma as a result of the beating, the Christian man regained consciousness after several days. Doctors told Bhimeshwari that her husband had blood clots in his brain and would need extra care at home and should not return to work until he fully recovered.
She had hoped to work extra hours at other people’s fields to sustain the family while he recovered, but soon after his release from the hospital, the government announced a lockdown to contain coronavirus, she said.
“Even while suffering in their hands, my husband refused to give up his faith. They declared that they would allow a chance for him to live if he renounced Christ. But my husband declined their offer and chose to suffer.”
After hearing the Gospel from an area pastor several years ago, Kama immediately put his faith in Christ, his wife said. Because of their faith, the family is socially and economically ostracised by their community. Despite persecution, they remain at their home in Bhimeshwari’s ancestral village.
“My husband and I close the doors and pray quietly; we are not afraid of tomorrow,” Bhimeshwari said. “We are socially banished from this village and have been treated as untouchables. They do not allow us to even walk on the road, and they believe that if we walk on it, it would be defiled. But our Lord is with us. We are seeking comfort in spending time with Lord Jesus.”
Sources: Morning Star News, The Christian Post
- Praise God for the faithfulness of Kama and Bhimeshwari. Pray He will help them and their children overcome the trauma of the attack. Ask the Lord to bring Kama complete healing.
- Ask the Lord to provide all the needs of the family. Pray too that they will receive much help and encouragement from other believers in the area.
- Pray their strong testimony of endurance may be used by God as a witness to the Gospel.
Post your prayer in the comments below.
John became interested in Christianity through a friend who shared Christian music and videos with him. He came to faith in Christ after eventually finding a pastor in another village who explained the Gospel to him.
About six months after professing his faith, his foster parents and others in his village began to complain, cursing him and treating him badly. “Stop believing in God, because this is not the religion of our ancestors,” his relatives told him. “It is a religion of foreigners.”
John’s foster parents even told him they regretted taking him in after his parents died. In addition, they told him they would not pay for a scheduled surgery to remove a metal rod in his leg unless he gave up his faith.
John told them he would continue to love and respect them but that he could not give up his faith. He said he would wait for the surgery until he can afford to pay for it himself. “I will believe in Christ until I pass away,” he said.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
- Thank the Lord for the way He is revealing Himself to many in Laos. Pray for all individuals and families who face opposition for their faith in Christ throughout the nation.
- Praise God for the faithful witness of John. Join with him in praying for his foster family and his community.
- Pray that John will find encouragement from members of his new family in Christ.
Post your prayer in the comments below.
Nasser and three visitors from Azerbaijan were arrested on 24 June 2016 at a private gathering in Tehran. They were held in solitary confinement for two months in Evin Prison and endured intense interrogation.
Following a court hearing on 23 May 2017, Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh sentenced Nasser (and the Azerbaijani defendants in absentia) to 10 years in prison for “action against national security and establishing house churches”. The verdict was upheld in an appeal hearing on 12 November 2017 and Nasser started serving his sentence in Evin Prison on 20 January 2018.
In a letter dated 31 January, Nasser writes: “I am confident in all hardships and I believe I will become free by Him who I have hope to (my Lord) because the Lord our God does not forget his children ….. so, let me be bold and say, ‘The Lord is my helper.’
“Remember me in your prayers always – you know that your prayers are a sweet smelling offering to God and a sacrifice which is accepted and pleasing to Him.”
Nasser also requests prayer for his family to come to follow Jesus, for the Iranian people and the spread of the Gospel. He challenges Christians to remain firm in their faith and to show concern for one another, not to give up meeting and to work hard to spread the Gospel. Finally, he asks for prayer for the other Christians in prison.
Source: Middle East Concern
- Ask God to encourage and strengthen Nasser and all other Christian prisoners and that they will know His help and presence.
- Join with Nasser in praying that his family will respond to Jesus’ saving work on the cross.
- Thank the Lord for the way the Gospel is being proclaimed in Iran. Pray it will continue to advance, despite the many obstacles.
Post your prayer in the comments below.
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.”
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Jeremy was just 11 years old when he sneaked out of home every Sunday to go to church, hiding his new-found Christian faith from his Muslim family.
Growing up in Malaysia, Jeremy faced many challenges and often felt empty and rejected. Born out of wedlock to a man his mother didn’t end up marrying meant he was an outcast and brought shame on his family – especially his stepfather.
His birth father didn’t even want to register his birth so he grew up stateless with no birth documents or identification, but church gave him hope.
“I longed to go to church every Sunday, I just loved it. It was the only thing that brought joy,” he recalls.
He escaped through his bedroom window every week to go to a church near his house until his family caught him and sealed up his window.
The home he grew up in was extremely dysfunctional; even though his family was Muslim, many of them were alcoholics and would often come home drunk.
“My home was always messy and my family was always fighting and arguing,” Jeremy says. This meant he couldn’t even concentrate on his studies and wasn’t able to finish school.
At the time he considered running away but instead he decided to stay and would pray for his family constantly.
Jeremy eventually went to live with his grandparents who knew he was a Christian, and before his grandfather died he led him to the Lord.
“I want my whole family to come to know the Lord, that’s my longing.”
After many years of prayer and fasting with his church and being considered stateless, Jeremy received an identification certificate for the first time last year. This was considered a miracle.
He still faces some challenges as his ID identifies him as Muslim but he is hopeful for the future.
“I pray for people to freely come to the Lord, especially Muslims who are bound by the law. I also want to be a vessel to win them to the Lord.”
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