As India lifts its coronavirus restrictions, the country has seen a sudden spike of Christian persecution across the country. On Sunday, one church planter was dragged into the street and beaten by a mob of 150 people while he visited with a member of the community.
Pastor Suresh Rao, who is a church planter in the country’s Telangana state, was praying with a sick person at their home when he was attacked.
Local believers told Christian persecution watchdog International Christian Concern that Rao arrived at the home around 9:30 a.m. Shortly after prayer began, a mob of 150 people surrounded the house. The person in charge was a man named Ashok.
“They dragged me into the street and pushed me to the ground. There, they started to trample on me. They tore my clothes, kicked me all over my body, and punched my left eye. I have sustained a serious eye injury as a result of a blood clot,” Rao said. “They kicked me like they would kick a football.”
Rao told ICC that the group accused him of converting Hindus to Christianity. The members of the mob referred to Rao’s actions as illegal religious conversions. “They said that India is a Hindu nation, and there is no place for Christians,” Rao explained.
According to Rao, however, the attack will not damage his faith. In fact, it confirms his mission. Persecution is something he expected as a church planter. He is dedicated to continuing the mission God gave him to do.
“I am prepared for this kind of eventuality. I know the cost of serving Jesus in these remote villages, and I will continue to serve the people of this region,” he added.
Over the last two weeks, ICC has reported at least eight incidents of Christian persecution. These incidents include physical assaults, damage to church property, and threats by radical Hindus.
On June 11, a group of unidentified people torched the building of Real Peace Church located in India’s Tamil Nadu state. Pastor Ramesh said the incident made him “distressed and pained in my heart.”
“It was hard labor for 10 years to build the church. All the hard work and sacrificial donations from the poor congregants were brought down to the ground. All that is left is ash,” Ramesh lamented.
Two days later, radical Hindu nationalists threatened members of Laymen Evangelical Fellowship Church. They told Pastor Augustine that he was not allowed to host services or prayer meetings on church property. They also claimed that all members of the church were carrying coronavirus and infecting all non-white people in the area.
Although Augustine reported the threat to local police, he fears for his church’s religious freedom and for the lives of its members.
“We don’t know what future holds,” Pastor Augustine told ICC. “However, we are concerned that the radicals will not allow us to have a church service.”