Hindu extremists raped the 4-year-old daughter of a pastor in central India because he refused to stop sharing the Gospel, a missionary in the region reports.
Pastor Samuel, an Open Doors USA partner on the ground in India, told The Christian Post that over the years, his ministry has come alongside hundreds of Christians persecuted for their faith in the south Asian country.
He shared the story of one pastor and his wife who, shortly after getting married, decided to move to a small town in Central India to begin a ministry for children.
“They would offer the Gospel to these children who were dropped off at their home,” Samuel said. “Before long, these children started doing well at school and changing their behaviour, so their parents became curious and asked about Jesus.”
With a growing interest in Christianity, the pastor and his wife decided to start a small church in their home. Around that time, their young daughter started kindergarten at the local school.
Not long after the church started, a group of Hindu extremists cornered the pastor and ordered him to stop sharing the Gospel. “They told him to stop holding services, or warned him he would have dire consequences,” Samuel said.
However, the pastor stood his ground, telling the Hindu extremists, “My God has called me to serve these children and the people of this town. I will continue to preach the Gospel. Do whatever you want to me.”
A short time later, the pastor was travelling for a ministry training conference when his wife received a phone call from their daughter’s school telling her the little girl was sick and vomiting.
“They said, ‘you should take her to the doctor, she’s very unwell,’” Samuel said. “She wouldn’t stop crying, so her mother took her to the doctor.”
At the hospital, doctors informed the pastor’s wife their daughter had been raped.
“The Hindu extremists had planned and plotted some men into the school who raped the 4 year old,” Samuel said. “It shattered the lives of the pastor and his wife.”
Despite repeated attempts to launch a complaint with the police, the pastor and his wife were ignored.
“They had no idea what to do; the school denied everything, and police wouldn’t listen,” Samuel said. “Eventually, one of our volunteers came into contact with them, and we’ve been ministering to them ever since.”
“It’s difficult for them, but by God’s grace they were able to be ministered to in their time of difficulty,” he continued. “God is using it. The pastor was telling me when I met him, he would have given up his ministry because of what happened with their child. But they were able to recover and understand that God can still use them to bring others to Christ.”
“Today,” he added, “they are continuing their ministry with the children in the same vicinity.”
Samuel told CP that such stories are not uncommon in India, which ranks as the 10th-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2019 World Watch List.
Since the Bharatiya Janata Party rose to power in 2014, Hindu radical attacks against Christians and other religious minorities have increased, Samuel said, adding that now, the government is attempting to pass radical conversion laws that would penalize those who convert to Christianity.
Additionally, the government is seeking to “cut the roots” off foreign funding for Christian and nonprofit organizations in efforts to curtail the growth and spread of Christianity.
“Christians are being targeted by the government; it’s seeking to halt the growth of Christianity and wipe out the church,” Samuel said. “There are violent acts happening every day; more than 50,000 people were affected by violence last year alone, and that number is only growing.”
Hinduism is based on a caste system — a form of social stratification — the pastor explained, and just 22% of Indians comprise the top caste. When members of the lower caste, often those in the country and poor tribal villages, convert to Christianity, members of the upper caste “fear they’re losing their control,” he said.
“They are afraid, if everyone becomes a Christian, who will they rule? They’re afraid of losing their power. It’s all political gain,” he added.
To avoid punishment, Hindu extremists often won’t kill Christians, but they will maim or mutilate them “so they cannot live a normal life,” Samuel explained.
“It’s increasing day by day,” he said. “It’s so unsafe, even for children, yet these people are faithfully following Christ.
Despite such persecution, Samuel said the church in India continues to grow at a rapid pace: “It’s amazing,” he said. “The Spirit of the Lord is working in the hearts and minds of the people.”
Miracles, he added, are “happening every day.”
“When the church meets for prayer, worship, and Bible study, miracles happen,” he said. “People are receiving the Gospel of Christ and asking Christ to come into their lives. More and more people are coming every week. Even amid this difficult situation, Christians are sharing their faith with their neighbours.”
“These people that are going through so many struggles and difficulty are so bold and strong in their faith, and that’s how the church is growing,” he posited.
Samuel urged the Church in the West to pray for the Church in India and consider supporting persecuted Christians through financial gifts.
“The church is growing fast, and the church needs to be stronger in the faith and discipleship and spiritual formation,” he emphasized. “They need materials; Bibles, books for pastors. Pastors need training.”
“The best way to support us, though, is through prayer,” he added. “Pray for us to be strong in this time of difficulty and for unity, that we can stand together despite oppression.”
To learn more about how you can support persecuted Christians in India, click here.