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The pastoral couple’s church and home.
Photo: World Watch Monitor

On April 17th, an Indian pastor and his expectant wife were assaulted, and their church set ablaze, after refusing to offer praise to a Hindu god. Pastor Dinbanhu Sameli, 30, and his expectant wife, Meena, 26 (who was seven months pregnant during the attack), lead a church in the troubled Bastar district of the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.

At around 7 p.m., two young men approached the pastor outside his home which is located next to the church. Initially the men asked 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, demanding that the couple shout out the phrase, "Jai Shri Ram" (meaning "Victory to the god Ram").

"Where is your Jesus?" the two assailants insultingly demanded. To this, Pastor Dinbanhu replied, "We believe that He is with us." When asked, "Why don't you believe in Ram?" the husband and wife remained silent. After the couple refused to comply with demands to praise Ram and stomp on a Bible, the two men took a litre of petrol and set fire to the church building, also destroying the congregation's musical instruments.

When the sword was placed on Pastor Dinbanhu's shoulder, he admittedly felt fear in his heart but prayed that God would save them. As the church burned, the couple fled and filed a report with the police. The incident took place in the remote village of Karanji, located within the Tokapal area of the sprawling Bastar district, in which there have been several incidents of anti-Christian violence at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists. To learn more about persecution in this country, go to our India Country Report.

While we can be very thankful that the lives of this pastoral couple have been miraculously spared, we pray that their unborn child will in no way be affected by the attack. Rather may God's hand of protection and blessing be upon this newly created life -- not only in the womb but also for the duration of the child's destined lifespan upon this earth. Ask that the Lord will open the spiritual eyes of the perpetrators (and others of this village community) that they may personally see the promised "Light of the World" through the faithful witness of His people and, therefore, choose to walk in the paths of His righteousness and unfailing love. May the church building be fully restored and equipped for the bold proclamation of the Gospel so that the exuberant praises of His people within this community will reach toward the heavens in rightful honour of our Almighty God.