12/29/2015 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Christmas is normally a joyful season for Christians around the world, but for members of the Rehoboth Prayer House in India, this Christmas was different. They started the Christmas season being violently assaulted by Hindu radicals while they were out inviting people to celebrate Christmas and handing out Bibles on the outskirts of Hyderabad. As a result of the attack, one man required hospital attention and all of the group’s Bibles and Gospel literature were burned to ashes.
More than 15 Hindus, believed to be members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), surrounded the Christians. They shouted anti-Christian slogans at the Christians as they snatched the Bibles and literature, piled them up, and lit them on fire.
After burning the Bibles and literature, the radicals continued to harass the Christians, using vulgar language with the Christian women. The Christians attempted to escape the radicals by moving on to the next street, but there they found more radicals waiting for them. Surrounded again, the radicals took hold of Santosh, a 35-year-old Christian, and started beating him up because he was trying to help the other Christians escape the angry mob.
“I could not breathe as over 15 well-built young people kicked me hard on my lower abdomen,” Santosh told International Christian Concern (ICC).“They punched and kicked me all over my body for more than 10 minutes. I noticed blood was coming from my mouth, I felt very thirsty and everything around me seemed very blurred. I could not bear the pain anymore. There was nobody to rescue me from that deadly situation.”
According to the other Christians of the Rehoboth Prayer House, the radials left Santosh half dead, as they beat him until he collapsed on the ground. After beating Santosh, the radicals continued their assault by attacking other members of the Christian group. When the attack finally ended, the Christians were left dazed and confused.
After beating the Christians, the radicals found the van that the Christians were using to transport their Bibles and literature parked nearby. The radicals broke into the van, unloaded all of the literature, including Bibles, New Testaments and Gospel tracts, and burned it all to ashes in the street.
Following the attack, other members of the Rehoboth Prayer House rushed to the scene of the attack and brought Santosh to a nearby hospital for treatment. A medical examination revealed that he suffered several broken ribs, cuts, bruises, and other internal injuries. At the time of ICC’s interview, Santosh was still limited to his hospital bed and was scheduled to go through another complete checkup before being discharged, as he was unable to sit up and had difficulty talking.
Pastor Jeyaraj, a Christian leader associated with the Rehoboth Prayer House, said, “This is [a] terrible thing that happened to Christians who preach and practice non-violence. Especially during this season as Christians share their joy to others irrespective of religious affiliations.”
Pastor David, another local pastor who has also faced persecution, said, “Things are getting harder when it comes to witnessing for the Lord in India. The situation is such that pastors and Christian evangelists cannot share their faith openly.”
“Persecution for one’s faith is a blessing as that is what the Bible says,” Santosh told ICC.“But, I also want to stand up for justice as this country gives everyone the freedom to believe and practice, and express a faith of their choosing.”
As other Christians around the world celebrate Christmas, they should remember the challenges faced by Christians suffering persecution. Like Christians in India, many Christians around the world today freely choose to be beaten, discriminated against, and chastised for their faith. This gift of resolute faith is something that all Christians should be asking for Christmas this year