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India: Hindu Extremist Mob Tries to Burn Pastor Alive in Odisha State

Hindu extremists in India tend to treat Christianity as a foreign and unwelcome religion, despite the fact that Christianity has been in India since apostolic times, brought there by St. Thomas the Apostle in A.D. 52. St. Thomas was martyred in India in A.D. 72. St. Ephraim, St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory the Theologian, among others, attest to this. There remain in India today a small and courageous group of Orthodox Christians who are under the jurisdiction of the the Holy Metropolis of Singapore.

As this article shows, Christians are frequently persecuted in India, treated with intense hatred that all too often erupts into violence. Christians of the ancient apostolic Churches are less often subjected to this treatment than are evangelical Protestants, but the persecution of any Christian is a matter of concern for all Christians. The rights of these persecuted Christians must be defended by all people of good will who believe in the dignity of every human person and in every person’s freedom to worship as his or her conscience dictates.

“Hindu Extremist Mob Tries to Burn Pastor Alive in Odisha State, India,” Morning Star News, November 26, 2018:

HYDERABAD, India (Morning Star News) – Pastor John Lakra was taking his 18-month-old baby to the hospital for emergency treatment in Odisha state, India when hundreds of Hindu extremists surrounded his car.

The pastor, his wife and their three children were on the way to the hospital in Sundargarh at about 7 p.m. on Oct. 23 when the mob began hurling stones at them and hitting the windows with rods as they shouted curses at him, he said.

“There were so many people that we could not even try get out there,” Pastor Lakra said. “We could not even see through the windows. My children and wife were crying. I did not know what to do.”

Earlier he had received word that Hindu extremists were looking for him regarding a text message and photo insulting the Hindu goddess Durga that a hacker had sent from his phone. He thought they only meant to talk with him.

“Soon, they pulled me out of the car, slapped and beat me black and blue,” Pastor Lakra told Morning Star News. “They ripped off my clothes. Not a single part of my body was left unstruck.”

After throwing him onto the road and kicking him, they picked him up and forced him onto a motorcycle, he said. With hundreds following, they took him to a Durga idol and forced him to kneel before it even as they continued beating him, he said.

“Then they poured a gallon of petrol on me,” he said. “Right there, I was praying in my heart. I said, ‘Lord! I submit myself to you. May this bring Glory only to you.’ While I was praying, I was so moved by the Holy Spirit. There was so much pain that I have not done enough, that I must share about my Lord’s love to so many, my journey is not over yet. These words rumbled in my heart.”

Hindus shouted that he should be given as a live sacrifice to the goddess, the pastor said.

“After they poured petrol on me, miraculously there was a blackout [power out],” Pastor Lakra told Morning Star News. “And within minutes, police reached the spot and rescued me.”

Christians in Odisha practice their faith with awareness of how Hindu extremists burned to death Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, 10-year-old Philip and 6-year-old Timothy, in their car in the state’s Manoharpur village on Jan. 23, 1999….

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

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