Persecution reports from Hyderabad, Jaipur, and Turkey. Also, how to handle persecution from a pastor in Jammu.
Report from Hyderabad by Stephen David
1) On Sunday 15th of April, few Hindu fanatics attacked a fellowship in Hyderabad and wounded few people. The news came on media but sadly even media and police are against Christians because of conversion issue. The people who persecuted belong to BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and there is a political conspiracy behind this attack. Sixty BJP leaders came to police station when the issue came to the notice of the police. The church is led by two young brothers, Ravi Paul and Kiran Paul. I know them well since few years. They both are wonderful men of God, passionate to spread God's Kingdom. They are still under recovery as they were badly beaten.
2) I was speaking to a person today in OM (Operation Mobilization) and this staff of AICC reported that the persecution is becoming worse in India. In our own state, Andhra Pradesh, the last week Hindu fanatics attacked five different places. He said that in every 20 minutes a Dalit is attacked in India and Christians too are close to this plight, i.e. in every 20 minutes a Christian will be persecuted in India. Please pray for the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit and for our people to be enable to speak the gospel of Christ boldly, wisely and lovingly under the power of the Holy Spirit.
From Jaipur by Evangelical Fellowship of India
Walter Masih, a pastor of a house church in Jaipur, Rajasthan was beaten up allegedly by 20 Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal activists after the Sunday service on April 29, 2007 . The pastor was brutally beaten at his residence in front of his family with iron rods and sticks. The attackers also ransacked his house and destroyed furniture. A News Channel also filmed the incident. The attackers were masked men between 18-22 years of age. An FIR has been launched against the attackers and the police are investigating the case. Meanwhile the pastor has been admitted to the hospital with internal injuries.
Reverend Rakesh Malachi, pastor of a local church in Jaipur told the Times of India, “It is a pre-planned, well-orchestrated attack. We have also received information on other possible attacks on Christians living in the state." Please pray for pastor Masih’s recovery.
Pray that the Church in Jaipur will remain strong and continue living faithfully as they live for Christ. Also pray that the attackers would be caught and brought to justice.
From Turkey from The Protestant Church of Smyrna
This past week has been filled with much sorrow. Many of you have heard by now of our devastating loss here in an event that took place in Malatya, a Turkish province 300 miles northeast of Antioch, the city where believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).
On Wednesday morning, April 18, 2007, 46 year old German missionary and father of three Tilman Geske prepared to go to his office, kissing his wife goodbye taking a moment to hug his son and give him the priceless memory, "Goodbye, son. I love you."
Tilman rented an office space from Zirve Publishing where he was preparing notes for the new Turkish Study Bible. Zirve was also the location of the Malatya Evangelist Church office. A ministry of the church, Zirve prints and distributes Christian literature to Malatya and nearby cities in Eastern Turkey. In another area of town, 35 year old Pastor Necati Aydin, father of two, said goodbye to his wife, leaving for the office as well. They had a morning Bible Study and prayer meeting that some other believers in townwould also be attending. Ugur Yuksel likewise made his way to the Bible study.
None of these three men knew that what awaited them at the Bible study was the ultimate testing and application of their faith, which would conclude with their entrance into glory to receive their crown of righteousness from Christ and honor from all the saints awaiting them in the Lord's presence. On the other side of town, ten young men all under 20 years old put into place final arrangements for their ultimate act of faith, living out their love for Allah and hatred of infidels who they felt undermined Islam.
On Resurrection Sunday, five of these men had been to a by-invitation-only evangelistic service that Pastor Necati and his men had arranged at a hotel conference room in the city. The men were known to the believers as "seekers." No one knows what happened in the hearts of those men as they listened to the gospel. Were they touched by the Holy Spirit? Were they convicted of sin? Did they hear the gospel in their heart of hearts? Today we only have the beginning of their story. These young men, one of whom is the son of a mayor in the Province of Malatya, are part of a tarikat, or a group of "faithful believers" in Islam. Tarikat membership is highly respected here; it's like a fraternitymembership.
In fact, it is said that no one can get into public office without membership in a tarikat. These young men all lived in the same dorm, all preparing for university entrance exams. The young men got guns, breadknives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible Study, around 10 o'clock. They arrived, and apparently the Bible Study began. Reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilmana's hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they tortured our brothers for almost three hours*
[Details of the torture–*
Tilman was stabbed 156 times, Necati 99 times and Ugura's stabs were too numerous to count. They were disemboweled, and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed. Fingers were chopped off, their noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open. Possibly the worst part was watching as their brothers were likewise tortured. Finally, their throats were sliced from ear to ear, heads practically decapitated.]
Tilman and Necati had been slaughtered, practically decapitated with their necks slit from ear to ear. Ugura's throat was likewise slit and he was barely alive. Three assailants in front of the policeman dropped their weapons. Meanwhile Gokhan heard a sound of yelling in the street. Someone had fallenfrom their third story office. Running down, he found a man on the ground, whom he later recognized, named Emre Gunaydin. He had massive head trauma and, strangely, was snarling. He had tried to climb down the drainpipe to escape, and losing his balance had plummeted to the ground. It seems that he was the main leader of the attackers. Another assailant was found hiding on a lower balcony. It appears that this was an organized attack initiated by an unknown adult tarikat leader. As in the Hrant Dink murder in January 2007, and a Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in February 2006, minors are being used to commit religious murders because public sympathy for youth is strong and they face lower penalties than an adult convicted of the same crime.
Even the parents of these children are in favor of the acts. The mother of the 16 year old boy who killed the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro looked at the cameras as her son was going to prison and said, "he will serve time for Allah." The young men involved in the killing are currently in custody. Today news reported that they would be tried as terrorists, so their age would not affect the strict penalty. Assailant Emre Gunaydin is still in intens
ive care. The investigation centers around him and his contacts and they say will fall apart if he does not recover.
The Church in Turkey responded in a way that honored God as hundreds of believers and dozens of pastors flew in as fast as they could to stand by the small church of Malatya and encourage the believers, take care of legal issues, and represent Christians to the media. The missionaries in Malatya will most likely move out, as their families and children have become publicly identified as targets to the hostile city. The remaining 10 believers are in hiding. What will happen to this church, this light in the darkness? Most likely it will go underground. Pray for wisdom, that Turkish brothers from other cities will go to lead the leaderless church. Should we not be concerned for that great city of Malatya, a city that does not know what it is doing? (Jonah 4:11)
When our Pastor Fikret Bocek went with a brother to give a statement to the Security Directorate on Monday they were ushered into the Anti-Terror Department. On the wall was a huge chart covering the whole wall listing allthe terrorist cells in Izmir, categorized. In one prominent column were listed all the evangelical churches in Izmir. The darkness does not understand the light. "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." (Acts 17:6) Please pray for the Church in Turkey. "Don't pray against persecution, pray for perseverence", urges Pastor Fikret Bocek. The Church is better having lost our brothers; the fruit in our lives, the renewed faith, the burning desire to spread the gospel to quench more darkness in Malatya; all these are not to be regretted. Pray that we stand strong against external opposition and especially pray that we stand strongagainst internal struggles with sin, our true debilitating weakness. This we know.
Christ Jesus was there when our brothers were giving their lives for Him. He was there, like He was when Stephen was being stoned in the sight of Saul of Tarsus. Someday the video of the deaths of our brothers may reveal more to us about the strength that we know Christ gave them to endure their last cross, about the peace the Spirit of God endowed them with to suffer for their beloved Savior. But we know He did not leave their side. We know their minds were full of Scripture strengthening them to endure, as darkness tried to subdue the unsubduable Light of the Gospel. We know, in whatever way they were able, with a look or a word, they encouraged one another to stand strong. We know they knew they would soon be with Christ. We don't know the details. We don't know the kind of justice that will or will not be served on this earth. But we pray – and urge you to pray – that someday at least one of those five boys will come to faith because of the testimony in death of Tilman Geske, who gave his life as a missionary to his beloved Turks, and the testimonies in death of Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, the first martyrs for Christ out of the Turkish Church.
A Response From Jammu by Pastor R.E.Howell
Brothers it is really surprising to share on how to handle persecution. I am doing ministry in Jammu (India) since one year.
In KATHUA I HAD 8 PASTORS. 5 PASTORS LEFT AFTER THEY WERE THREATENED IN Aug 2006.
Pas. Pawan was attacked by Hindu fundamentalists many times. His sister came forward and told these people, "You have to kill me before you reach my brother Pastor." In February, his sister's son, age 20 years, was killed by someone and his dead BODY WAS FOUND IN FRONT OF THEIR DOOR. SEE THE CHALLENGE by these people. No Christian organization and local people came for his help. Yes the EFI HAD A TALK WITH HIM, TALKED WITH THE POLICE BUT THE KILLER IS NOT TRACED YET.
The Result is, in March end, many people who had deserted him, came forward to work and they are progressing very well. Many baptisms are to be held in May last week. If you ask Pawan HE WILL TELL YOU HOW TO HANDEL PERSECUTION. As I returned yesterday, I saw on Television how a pastor was beaten in Jaipur. Ask him how to handle persecution. How he handled persecution? In Hanuman Garh, Rajasthan, on March 7th, in the same way the Aaj Taak TV showed a Pastor being beaten.
I handled that situation. They came with pistol in their hand pointing to me. What should I do? When I did not show any reaction, I was hit on my nose. With a bleeding face, I fell down. My head was put between the legs and was beaten on my back. No one to help me. All ran away, about 80 church members. Then an elderly lady said, "He will die because of excessive bleeding." Finally, they let me go . No medical aid offered to me because all people were afraid of these men. I took shelter in a village, 25 Km away. No medical aid there also. I came back with blood stains and bleeding from nose and pain in chest and back. I did not retaliate.
The Result – 65 Baptisms from that same village on 2nd April. When we undergo persecution, do not retaliate.
A report from Punjab./ Bhatinda. Three pastors were often attacked and were arrested by the police for preaching the gospel. Last year they were arrested 5 times and let off after a pastor Raja, G.S.C.C INCHARGE from LUCKNOW INTEREVENED and EFI approached on time. This time, on March, they were challenged by this group, "If you do Christian work we will kill you." So they were ready with swords and sticks to fight with them. They came and attacked, breaking the front glass of the Maruti van. They attacked them and broke their legs, hands and even knocked down one by hitting on the head. The police came, arrested and admitted the wounded ones in the hospital Many people gathered around Civil Hospital. The man who got injury on the head recovered after 24 hours.
The pastor was sent to Central jail. They were proud because they got an opportunity to preach the gospel to those in the jail. The result – It came in the press that these people were converting those in the jail to Christianity.
Terror was unleashed by the opponents in many places. Innocent pastors were beaten. The whole state of Punjab was terrorized by the Hindu Activists. Is this endurance?
Teach the people to endure persecution. Don't retaliate. Be like HIM. Jesus Christ helped Pas Pawan to start his work afresh in Kathua, Jammu . My work in Hanuman garh. Rajasthan, in and around this area has been increased. Do not question why I do this all and die.