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India (MNN) ― While believers were gathered at his home singing worship songs, a mob of Hindu extremists brutally attacked Raju,* a church leader trained by Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India.
Dave Stravers with Mission India said about 20 men broke into Raju's home wielding clubs. Radicals destroyed things in the home and then turned their rage to Raju. When his 12-year-old daughter asked the extremists why they were attacking her father, they began to beat her, too.
"Persecution is a growing reality in India," said Stravers. After violently attacking Raju and his family, extremists proceeded to drag the believer and his wife to a nearby Hindu temple.
"They smeared vermillion--which is like a finger-paint--on their foreheads and pushed their heads down…and forced them to worship the idols in the temple," Stravers explained.
"This is a pretty typical thing; it happens quite often in India," he added.
Last month, the Evangelical Fellowship of India observed weekly attacks on Christians. Hindu extremists throughout India threatened and beat believers, often accusing them of "forcible conversions."
Could this escalating violence lead to another Orissa-like situation?
"That possibility is always there, yes," Stravers admitted. "It's impossible to predict when that might happen or where, but it's always a possibility.
"In the meantime, you have these local acts of aggression that happen every week, and many cases every day. This is happening all over India."
One of Mission India's partners believes that a non-Christian relative may have told the attackers about Raju's worship group. Raju and his family are currently in hiding. Stravers said a similar pattern takes place in India whenever believers face persecution: they lie low for a few weeks until the chaos dies down, and then resume their work quietly.
"After a few weeks, people realize that these Christians aren't a threat and that they're actually bringing good to the communities," explained Stravers. "Ideally, Raju will go back to his ministry, and the church will start worshipping again."
Ask God to protect this believer and his family.
"We need to pray that they will take courage, that they will receive comfort and support from other believers," stated Stravers. Pray also that the Gospel would continue moving forward in India.
"India is right on the frontier of what God is doing to make the Great Commission the Great Completion in our day."
Stravers said India is hungry for God's Word. For one dollar, you can send a child to Mission India's Children's Bible Club. Many families learn about the Gospel through their children who attend these clubs.