My name is Parveen. I’m a young Christian woman living in India. Last week Sunday while other believers and I were worshipping in our church, a mob of people barged in and began shouting Hindu slogans. I wasn’t afraid but very angry that they dared to come into a sacred place.
They began to physically assault us, destroy the musical instruments and had the audacity to rip one of the Bibles apart, throw it on the ground and trample on it. I was so furious. They then proceeded to place their Hindu idols in the church and began to worship them.
How I longed for a bolt of lightning to strike them where they stood. How dare they come in here and profane the place where God Himself dwelt? And how dare they target the pastor and his family? He was a man of God who was there to teach His Word. He was a shepherd tending to his flock.
When some of us asked them why they were there, the militants stated that everyone who was born in India must remain Hindu and only worship Hindu deities. The first thing which came to my mind was why would I want to remain in a religion which I found oppressive? Why would I return to spiritual bondage when I had been set free? I knew exactly what it was like to be a Hindu. For most of my life I was one.
My family and I meticulously followed Hindu traditions. We attended temple services and followed specific worship creeds. We routinely bathed, fed and put garlands on the idols. But we never felt any peace.
At university there was a student who always seemed so happy and at peace. Burning with curiosity, I asked her about it one day and she told me that she and her family had given their lives to Jesus. She offered to give me a free Bible. I took it home and showed it to my mother.
One night my father caught my mother reading the Bible and he was furious. He told her, “We have so many of our own gods and goddesses,” he told her as he snatched it away. “Why do you want to worship another one? Do you want our friends and relatives to desert us if they find out that you’re reading the Bible?”
My mother continued to read the Bible and she shared what she learned with me. I fell in love with Jesus and wanted to be with other people who loved Him. My mother and I started attending a Christian church and we were soon baptized. My father was livid. He reminded us, “You know very well that if a Hindu does not obey the stringent requirements of his gods, sickness and calamity will afflict him. Is that what you want to happen to our family because you have chosen to follow the Christian God?”
My mother told him that Jesus healed lepers, the lame, blind, sick and even cast out demons. She said to him, “Do you remember how many times we have visited temples and holy places for deliverance and joy but all we got was disappointment and hopelessness? Since accepting Jesus, I have peace and joy in my heart. I don’t worry about anything anymore because I know that Jesus will take care of us. Why don’t you just give Him a chance, Amitesh?”
My father listened to her and he came to church with us one Sunday. It wasn’t long before he accepted Jesus and was baptized. He was one of the members who asked the militants why they were in our church, disrupting our worship service. He stood up to them, unafraid because he knew that God was on our side and that He wouldn’t allow the enemy to have his way.
They left, taking their worthless idols with them. And after we cleaned up the sanctuary, we resumed our worship, praising God for His goodness and thanking Jesus for His sacrifice. People were a little shaken but they were more determined than ever to worship Him who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
This is the first attack against our church which has been operating in this village for over 20 years and had no prior problems with the other villagers. The mob came from a neighboring village. We filed a report but so far the police haven’t done anything so far even though there have been at least ten other attacks elsewhere within the past two weeks.
Last night when I read Psalm 74, I thought of the attack. The psalmist declared, The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary. Your enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place; They set up their banners for signs. They have set fire to Your sanctuary; They have defiled the dwelling place of Your name to the ground. They said in their hearts, “Let us destroy them altogether.” They have burned up all the meeting places of God in the land. I can only imagine how angry he must have been and how he longed for God to deal with those who had blasphemed His name. I prayed that God would pour out His wrath on those who stormed my church, blasphemed Him and attacked His worshippers.
I don’t want to be bitter and vengeful about the incident. Instead, I pray daily that the peace which had existed for years in the village between Christians and Hindus will be restored. We want to be able to freely and safely worship our Lord in His sanctuary. I even pray for the mob that they would be convicted by the Holy Spirit leading them to repent of their actions. I pray that the love of Jesus would abound in our hearts even for those who attacked our faith. I pray that our government will pass a law which will protect the rights of all citizens, regardless of their religion.
This story of fiction is based on true events. I encourage you to pray for Christians living in India, that they continue to hold unto their faith and to share the Gospel of Christ amidst persecution. Religious freedom is a human right.