An innocent teenaged boy was killed and then mutilated by Hindu militants in the village of Kenduguda, Odisha, on June 4th. Samaru Madkami was home from a residential school due to the pandemic lockdown. His father, Unga, served as a leader of the Bethel House Church which met in their home.
At around 11:00 p.m., a group of villagers arrived at the Christian family's house and called for Unga to come to a meeting. Having taken his daughter to the doctor, he was not home. So Samaru went with the group instead, only to find a mob waiting in the jungle. There the youth was stoned and stabbed to death. The attackers returned in an attempt to also take Samaru's cousin, but he was able to escape and report the incident to police.
By the next morning, a dozen arrests had been made. Confessions extracted by police led them to the body, which had been cut into pieces and buried in a pit. Some of those responsible stated that the Christians had been practising black magic, blaming this as the cause of the sickness experienced by several people in the village. Although authorities state that the community's water supply was the true cause of the illness, in the villagers' minds, the alleged black magic practices justified the murder of the teen.
In the three years since Unga and Samaru had made the decision to follow Christ, they have faced continual harassment and threats for their faith. Attempts have been made on Unga's life before. According to the church's pastor, who lives in another village, plans have since been made by disgruntled villagers to kill all three of the Christian families in Kenduguda. Yet, it is believed that the allegations of black magic were merely a pretence to justify the brutal killing.
Shibu Thomas, founder of Persecution Relief, has been involved with more than 1,500 cases of persecution in the past four years. This, however, is by far the most disturbing. "The hate and aggression in the minds of the religious fanatics and the brutal nature of this crime leave me dumbfounded!" he declared. For more on the persecution facing India's Christians, go to our country report.
Please remember Samaru's grieving family and members of their house church group in your prayers as they deal with this horrific loss of life. Ask God to protect this small group of believers in the community and render justice in the situation. May they continue to be a light amid the darkness surrounding them. Pray that the other villagers will respond to God's light and, as a result, experience His unconditional love and forgiveness.