Teenager stoned to death amid spate of killings across India Sixteen-year-old Samaru (pictured) was a promising young pastor who led a tiny church in his village in Odisha. But Hindu militants resented the fact that Samaru’s and two other families had turned to Christ a few years ago. They drove out the church’s original pastor – then, when Samaru took over church leadership, they started plotting against him. Recently, extremists dragged Samaru from his house in Kendukuda village, took him up into the mountains, then stoned him to death. Release partners reported the murder to police and four men were arrested. Our partners are now supporting all three Christian families from Kendukuda, moving them elsewhere for safety. Our partners say such attacks are on the increase during the pandemic: persecution is flourishing in villages under lockdown or subject to curfews. ‘Unfortunately, Samaru is one of a growing number of Christians being persecuted and even martyred in India, as radical Hindu nationalism spreads across the country,’ says Voice of the Martyrs Korea. A tribal group persuaded Maoist militants to shoot and kill Pastor Munshi Devu Tado on July 10: he had led 15 families to Christ in Bhatpar village in Maharashtra state. Meanwhile, in Chhattisgarh state, Bajjo Bai Mandavi, a widow who had suffered persecution for refusing to denounce Jesus, was found dead on May 29, just outside Kumud village where she lived. Also in Chhattisgarh, three Christian families have just returned home to Devkupli Para after fleeing the village in May. They were attacked and received death threats for refusing to worship tribal gods. The Christians have had to come back to farm their land, but are said to be ‘traumatised and shunned’.
Please pray that God will comfort Samaru’s family as they mourn his loss. Ask God to protect the families in Devkupli Para. Pray that they will know God upholds them with his ‘righteous right hand’ (Isaiah 41:10).
Pray for justice for Samaru, Bajjo, Pastor Munshi and their families, so that persecutors will not be allowed to act with impunity.
Pray that state and national governments will take firm steps to protect vulnerable Christian communities and uphold religious rights for all citizens.
(Sources: All India Christian Council, Voice of the Martyrs Korea, Morning Star News) UPDATE We thank God that our Iranian brother Ismaeil Maghrebinejad has had one of three prison sentences overturned and another reduced on appeal. The third sentence was upheld. Ismaeil is now due to serve seven months for ‘propaganda against the state’ and two years for ‘membership of a group hostile to the regime’. The court overturned the three-year sentence for responding to a joke against an Islamic cleric with a smiley-face emoji. Pray that Ismaeil will not be called to serve these sentences. (Source: Middle East Concern)