“The villagers crowded around us and started punching and kicking us, all over our bodies. They asked us to praise Hindu gods and goddesses. We refused. They kicked us harder.”
(Sohan, Indian Pastor)
This is what happened to Sohan (not his real name), pictured below, after he decided to follow Jesus and began sharing the gospel with others. His story isn’t unusual. Last year in India over 800 Christians were physically attacked, and this year that number is likely to be even higher. The rise of Hindu extremism means Christians are facing increasing levels of discrimination and attack.
But God is at work. Many are coming to faith after experiencing miraculous healings, and imprisoned believers have seen God use them to reach their fellow prisoners with the gospel. After Sohan was beaten, his attackers called the police and accused him of converting people to Christianity; there are anti-conversion laws in five of India’s states, and they are frequently abused in order to harass and arrest minorities, including Christians. “I was shivering with fear, but I was praying,” says Sohan.
He was imprisoned for four days, but he saw God work in amazing ways. Sohan says, “I preached the gospel and prayed for an inmate who was sick. He was healed and believed in Christ instantly. My other cell mate was a person suffering from intense depression. He kept saying that he wanted to kill himself. I prayed for him and the suicidal thoughts left him. He also accepted Christ. The third person I met was a young man falsely accused of raping a woman. He also used to remain very upset and felt hopeless about his life. I shared the gospel with him, and he also accepted Christ inside the prison. This way I saw God’s immense power and deliverance.”
A Christian organization help bail Sohan out of prison, and are helping him to fight the false claims filed against him. He has returned to his village, and lives among the people who beat him so brutally and had him arrested. Despite everything he has been through, he is determined to continue following Jesus. “I suffered with many physical ailments and financial troubles before I became a Christian. Now I have freedom from all those problems and have a new life. This new life I will live only for Him, even if it includes persecution,” he says.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.