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A Testimony I Heard Through A Mission Trip in India

(November 24, 2017)

Even now in India, Christians continue to be persecuted. I had an opportunity to listen to the stories of Christians. In their stories, it was as if the persecutions recorded in the New Testament are happening now.

Hyparete was a Christian. She came to this place after her marriage, but there were no other Christians. In that village there was a ritual to kill animals for sacrifice. The place was filled with superstitions. At that time, it was said that the devil’s work was often seen. To explain what that means exactly, things like “the meat doesn’t cook, not matter how much it’s boiled.” Her husband Medus was a Hindu, and he threw away his wife’s Bible. Because they did not have any children during their 5 years of marriage, Medus told his wife “If you can’t produce children, then work” and he made his wife to do hard jobs. Her husband would get drunk and abuse her, and Hyparete would cry all night long.

One day, Medus became very ill. Hyparete’s parents told her “Come home when your husband is dead.” But then Medus had a vision. In this strange vision, two people appeared before him.

One of them was a man wearing white. He said, “Do not fear. I am with you. A black woman will come. But she will not be able to do anything to you.” Then a black woman came. She was naked and had a long lolling tongue, and a cup in her hand. The black woman said, “Today, I will kill you.” However the man in white obstructed her, and sent her away. Medus was healed. Hyparete realized that it was the work of the Holy Spirit. Her husband’s parents had refused to go to church, but she told her husband about Jesus.

Around that time, a missionary came to the village. He had seen Medus and Hyparete in a dream prior to his visit. And he told them, “You two will have a child.” Medus said, “Either a boy or girl would be fine,” but the missionary said, “No, it will be a boy.” Medus said, “If it is a boy, I will offer him to God.” Then, the missionary gave water to Hyparete. When she drank it, Hyparete became pregnant. The news spread that “an arrogant and rich man who always abused others changed his heart, and was given a child.” And in Medus’ village 27 people came to accept Jesus Christ and were baptized.

India Testimonies

Medus built a church in the village. At that time, a magician came to the village. He tricked people by saying he had healed many people’s sicknesses and saying that “I am God.” People went to him to see miracles but later the magician came to Christ. So Medus went to a neighboring village to evangelize. In the village called Xylocopa, the people who believed in Hinduism were doing bad things. They would kill people by the devil’s power. Medus went there too. The villagers wanted to kill Medus and thus performed magic. (When I asked, “what kind of magic?” he said, “They breathed curses on me.”) However, Medus did not die and instead continued to talk about the gospel, and one family was saved. That family’s son is now a pastor. Medus’ evangelism shook the whole village, and at last the village leader was called to come. The villagers decided to poison Medus. However, even then Medus did not die. The woman who poisoned Medus repented and was saved. In that village 15 families were saved and became Christians.

(Note: 100 years ago, in the biography of the Indian evangelist, Sundar Singh, there is a story that when he was a young boy who had just become a Christian, he was poisoned by his Hindu relatives. His doctor who saw him recover was converted and became a Christian.)

Once, Medus went to a village called Euparatettix. One of the villagers became angry and tried to shoot Medus. However, the gun would not do as bade, so he threw it down in anger. Then the gun fired. In a dream the man saw Medus praying for him, and he was saved. The man’s son is also now a pastor in that village.

When Medus’ son Rosimon was about 18 years old (around 2000), Hindus invaded the village. Medus was hit in the head and he passed out. His head was cut open and his Bible was covered in blood. Even then, the enemy said the riot was “caused by the Christians” and so Medus was arrested, and in custody for 6 days. Even today, Medus has difficulties walking because of his injuries at that time.

In 2007, there was a conspiracy to kill his son Rosimon, but Rosimon was protected. And in 2008, Medus’ village was destroyed and plundered. Around 120 Christians were killed and 4,500 Christian houses were burned down in persecution. Again, the persecuted Christians were the victims, they were the ones who were hunted down by the authorities and some of them are still in custody. There is a possibility that persecution of Christians is still happening today.

Medus passed down the responsibility of village leader and work of pastor to his son Rosimon. Right now, Pastor Rosimon is the leader of village pastors, and he continues to share the gospel. One night, when his home became dark during the occasional power cuts, Medus told us this story because he wanted to share it with the Christians who had come from Japan. Medus finished his story saying that “I have lost all property and possessions but I have not lost my faith in the Lord.”

(Note: Following the ethical standard of qualitative research, personal names and the name of the place are anonymous in this article.)

Persecution Against Christians at Perina Village

Perina is a small village in a mountain area where 300 people live. This village is located in the western part of Odisha, India. Those who live in this area are a minority of Christian people. Like other Mountainous ethnic minorities in Asia, Perina’s people used to have animistic faith. However, Christian evangelists occasionally visited the village and introduced the Christian faith to the villagers. In the early 20th century, the nephew and niece of the famous Indian evangelist, Sadhu Sundar Singh, came to the village for evangelism.

Christianity was established at Perina village when the village headman, Medus became a Christian through divine appointment with a mystical evangelist in 1982. Soon Medus started to visit his neighboring villages evangelizing to people and many Christian communities rose up in the area. Now his eldest son, Rosimon, has taken over Medus’ rolls as a pastor and community leader.

The Hindu fundamentalist group called Rashytiya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has had power since the 1980s in urban areas in India and religious persecution by Hindus became evitable. An evangelist, Graham Stuart Staines, from Australia who served with the poor leprosy in Odisha, was murdered with his 6 and 10 year-old sons by Hindu radicals.

Persecutions which has occurred many places in India and Odisha is not an exception. Churches and houses at Perina and its neighboring villages were burned by Hindu people on December, 2008. 400-500 armed men came to Perina and destroyed houses and plundered the village. Pastor Rosimon and the people in his village were safe because they were aware of the assault before hand, and they were able to hide in several groups within the nearby forest. Their community center that was under construction at that time was dynamited, and their building equipment was robbed.

Pastor Rosimon reported:

“Since the other villages were attacked, we are on the lookout for an assault. We saw the great numbers of people that came down from the mountain at night, and then we run into the forest and hid in small groups. Then it was rainy in the forest. I hid in the forest for two days and then came back to my village after confirming that it was safe. The buildings and houses were destroyed. The assaulters went back soon after the attack. Nobody in my village was injured. The assaulters came to the village on foot bringing spears and knives. I don’t know who they were even now. But it is obvious that their purpose was to kill my father and me in order to sweep away Christian faith from this village. However, we remained in this village. In October of the next year when the rice harvest time came, Hindu people came to my village and plundered the harvest, saying, ‘This land belongs to Hindu.’ They also said that they had permission to do it from the local government. They were acquaintances, not strangers. After the incident, many investigators visited my village taking interviews and photos, but they didn’t do anything to help. My village is very poor, and the biggest concern in this village is how to get minimum life daily commodities for villagers.”

(Nov. 23, 2017)

In August 23rd, 2008, the Hindu’s guru was killed by a local anti government organization. Even though the time of the assassination happened several months after the Hindu’s Christmas attack in 2017, the police office immediately concluded that it was a retaliation by Christians and arrested innocent Christian leaders. After that, Hindu people assaulted Christian churches (Presbyterian and Catholic Church etc.) in many villages such as Papilio, and more than one hundred twenty Christians were murdered. Pastor Rosimon built an orphanage near his house, gathering girls who have no parents. Among the orphans, there are girls whose parents were killed or imprisoned with a false charge.

After the mass murders, Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha, designated this area as a protected area in order for outsiders not to enter this area. Although political confusions had continued in this area for several years after the incident, entering to this area is permitted for foreign people now. The local pastors say that even though they suffered from the harsh persecutions, churches never perished in this area. Rather, many people became to believe in Jesus Christ.

(Note: Following the ethical standard of qualitative research, personal names and the name of the place are anonymous in this article.)