“Around 250 people surrounded my house, they caught hold of me and dragged me for about half a kilometer to the nearby temple. When we arrived at the temple they pushed me towards the idol and ordered me to bow down; I mustered all the strength that was left within me and said, ‘I will die but I will not bow to this idol.’”
Khushal, a 50-year-old Pastor from central India, describes the ordeal he suffered last year because of his faith in Jesus, and his work as a pastor in his village. He was attacked by a mob of people from his village and nearby villages who had been turned against him by Hindu extremists. He had received many threats from Hindu extremists before and last year they riled up the local villagers to attack him brutally.
His dark eyes are moist as he shares about what could have been the most challenging moments of his life. “They showered kicks and blows on me the whole time. It was the entire mob taking turns to hit me; they were shouting abuses at me, blaming me of luring innocent Hindus to Christianity.
“I was barefoot and bruised…After some time, despite the beatings, there was no pain because my body had become numb due to the excessive beatings. I was extremely fearful of what awaited me next.”
The beatings and verbal abuses continued for over two hours until the police arrived and took Khushal to the police station. Khushal furrows his brows as he continues, “I really thought the police would help me, but instead they questioned me about how much I give to people to convert them to Christianity. I was appalled. I told them, ‘I only pray for people; they convert to Christianity when they see miracles happening.’ But no one believed me.”
The rough, verbally abusive and intense interrogation continued, and finally, two false cases were filed against him - one blaming him for converting people to Christianity using fraudulent means, and the other accusing him of causing riots.
However, Khushal was released the next day, as many local Christian leaders protested and worked to secure bail for him. He says, “After my release, I was happy to be home, but inside my heart I was deeply troubled. It occurred to me that such things could happen again at any time! My family also became very fearful. They kept fretting over my ministry and forced me to stay indoors.”
He then shares about difference it made to receive persecution survival training through Open Doors local partners. “Within a week of this incident, I was invited to a persecution survival training in a city nearby by a pastor I knew. I hesitated because it would mean that I had to leave my family behind, but I finally decided to go.”
After attending the training, Khushal says he received inner healing. He says, “I felt my inner strength coming back to me. I was no longer worried about my family or any other earthly dangers. In fact, I was immensely moved when I heard testimonies about other people who were brutally beaten, imprisoned for years and even killed for faith. I also saw pictures of houses that were destroyed and photos of families of people who were killed. I realised I was much better off.”
He continues, “During the training I felt the warmth of God’s love and his protection. It felt as if God intended to bring me here to learn. I shared my testimony and my concerns. Many people prayed for me and I was a new person. Much more mature and much bolder!”
Khushal smiles broadly as he talks about his experience with his family after the training. “When I went back home, I shared about the persecution stories that I had learned during the seminar. My wife was especially surprised to see the change in me and she was greatly encouraged.”
Khushal shares about how the persecution incident impacted his life: “Such incidents do impact your life. Though I was strong throughout the time when the persecution took place and refused to bow down to the idol, I suffered mental trauma for days afterwards.
“Had it not been for the persecution survival training, my life would have been so different. I probably would not have backed off my faith, but it could have impacted my ministry in a great way. The seminar reached me at the right time. It worked to strengthen me, my church members and my family.”
His expression changes to a more solemn one as he continues. “There were four families from my church who backed off from their Christian faith after this incident. I feel sorry that I couldn’t convince them to stay firm in their faith, but I am glad that the majority of my church is very strong.”
Khushal continues to live in the same village with the same people who were once hostile to him. Many of them apologised to him a few months after the incident and confessed that they had been poisoned against him by the extremists.
He leans forward as he describes his current situation. “Right now things have grown calmer and the people living around my house have acknowledged that I had been framed. But in all circumstances I know God is with me.”
He then adds a final statement in a very strong tone. “Now I do not fear death. Everyone dies one day. I have understood that if I die a little early because of my faith or ministry, I know God will take care of my family and everything else that concerns me.”
Source: Open Doors