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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Indian Nazarenes unfairly arrested en route to district assembly

Taken from
Indian Nazarenes unfairly arrested en route to district assembly
Eastern Maharashtra, India
Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Twenty Nazarenes from the Eastern Maharashtra District were threatened by Hindu extremists while traveling to their District Assembly on January 26. Four of the delegates, including one pastor and his son, were imprisoned, falsely accused of forcing Christian conversions, and were repeatedly denied bail.

Initial reports from Internet news agencies stated as many as three Nazarene pastors were arrested.

Delegates from several churches in central India had gathered at a lodge on the evening of the 26th, where they planned to spend the night before traveling by bus to their district assembly in Nagapur the next day.

While there, members of local Hindu extremist groups stopped one of the delegates and asked where they were going, then accused him of forcing people to convert to Christianity. He was badly beaten by a crowd that gathered there, and was taken into police custody when local authorities intervened.

The other delegates were threatened, taken to a Hindu temple and told to bow to Hindu deities or be burned to death. Those who refused were sent to the police station and held for two days without food. While in custody, the delegates were forced to sign belief statements in front of local media—one woman refused, and was arrested.

"The arrests were unlawful from all angles," said the Eastern Maharashtra District Superintendent. "But when the crowd is against you, no law can protect you in this country, especially in states like the one where this happened."

A local Nazarene pastor was summoned from his home by the police after they questioned the group, and his 18 year-old son joined him out of concern. Police asked about the delegation and accused them of forcibly converting innocent and illiterate people to Christianity by offering money, jobs, and church facilities. Though the pastor insisted the delegates were believers already, he and his son were both arrested.

The pastor was questioned repeatedly over several days, sometimes in front of the local media.

“Some people, along with media, came to interview me under pressure and tried to assault me,” he said. “But they failed because God was with me and was protecting me.”

Bail was finally posted, and the four prisoners were released after five days.

“This was the power of prayer: all over India, people of God were praying for us,” said the pastor. “I take [everything that happened to us] as the grace of God to my family and me, because the Bible says, ‘Blessed are those who suffer for His gospel.’ I am honored to suffer for Christ. I have experienced that the mighty hands of God are protecting me and working for me.”

All delegates returned home safely, and the pastor’s son said the experience strengthened his own faith in Christ.

“This is just a small sample of what our bothers and sisters in parts of the world go through every day while living out their faith in word and deed,” said Eurasia Regional Director Gustavo Crocker. “But even thought events like this unsettle us, they do not deter us from being salt and light to this world that badly needs the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.”

Continued prayer is requested for Nazarene brothers and sisters who continue serving the Lord in spite of such difficult circumstances.--Eurasia Region (Photo taken from


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