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Pastor Awdhesh was publicly
shamed for sharing the Gospel.
Photo: Alpha Ministries

In the state of Uttar Pradesh, a Christian pastor was publicly humiliated for allegedly leading a few men in their conversion to Christianity. On January 29th, a mob comprised of more than a hundred activists belonging to Bajrang Dal, a youth organization dedicated to Hindu nationalism, went to the home of Pastor Awdhesh and forcibly took him to the organization's district headquarters in the city of Orai.

The activists made a public mockery of the pastor by shaving his head, eyebrows, and moustache before placing him on a donkey and parading him along the city's streets. Also, a garland of shoes, considered a symbol of shame in India, was placed around his neck. When police arrived at the scene, the mob refused to release Pastor Awdhesh. Senior officers subsequently arrived with reinforcements to deal with the situation. While there have been claims that the rally initially began with peaceful intentions, police are continuing with their investigation of the mob riot.

Similar incidences perpetrated by Hindu nationalists have occurred before in India, including the massive outbreak of state-wide violence against Christians in Orissa during August of 2008. According to writer John L. Allen, the "series of riots ended with as many as 500 Christians killed" and, as a result, numerous traumatized children orphaned. Two Christian orphanages in India, assisted by The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, are still providing the orphans needed housing, education and ministry. For additional reports, including a video clip of these children singing at one of the assisted orphanages, go to our India Country Report.

More recently was another incident of concern. In 2015, five Christian brothers, some of whom are pastors and evangelists, were charged with proselytizing after a video of their street witnessing in a predominantly Hindu city was made public. As their case is still being mediated in the courts, VOMC's legal defence fund continues to cover the believers' legal fees in support of their families.

May the Lord remind Pastor Awdhesh of the psalmist's encouraging words in Psalm 119:50-52: "This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life. The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from Your law. When I think of Your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord" (ESV). Pray that this publicly humiliated spiritual leader in India will also be greatly comforted in his shame. May Pastor Awdhesh, like the early apostles, rejoice that he has been "counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name" (Acts 5:41). Let us also prayerfully remember all believers who have been victimized as a result of Hindu nationalist violence, including the surviving loved ones of those slain in the Orissa attacks.