An Indian pastor and his pregnant wife were assaulted and their church set on fire on the evening of Sunday 17 April after they refused to praise a Hindu god.
Pastor Dinbanhu Sameli, 30, and his wife, Meena, 26, seven months pregnant, lead a church in the troubled Bastar district of the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
Two young men approached the pastor outside his home next to his church at around 7pm, initially asking for prayer, claiming they were from a nearby Methodist church. But they later brought out a sword which they held to the pastor’s neck, and demanded the couple shout the phrase, “Jai Shri Ram” (Victory to the god Ram).
“Where is your Jesus?” the two men demanded; Dinbanhu replied “We believe that he is with us”. When asked “Why don’t you believe in Ram?” they remained silent.
When the couple refused to do praise Ram, and also refused to stamp on a Bible, the two men took a litre of petrol and set fire to the church, including musical equipment.
Sameli said he “felt fear in his heart” with the sword on his shoulder, but “prayed that God would save him”.
As the church burned, the couple fled and filed a report with the police – with an investigation ongoing. However, local Christian leaders are skeptical about police efforts to catch those responsible – the area has seen several recent incidents of anti-Christian violence at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.