If God calls you to build a church in a place where there is opposition to the gospel what would you do?
How would you respond if you knew that you might be beaten up by an angry mob or even worse?
These might seem like hypothetical questions to you and I living in the UK. But they are real and very pressing questions that many pastors in places hostile to the gospel grapple with.
Pastors like Steeven (pictured) in Telangana State, India who lost his home, his land … and nearly lost his life.
During a recent trip to India, a member of the Release staff met Steeven and other pastors like him who are experiencing the full force of religious hatred for serving God.
Today I want to share with you Pastor Steeven’s story – because courageous Christians like him need our unwavering support and our prayers.
You see, some time ago Steeven bought a plot of land to build a church for the three congregations he was pastoring in south India.
However, last year the permission to build was blocked by local members of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). They even threatened Steeven on the phone, warning him to:
“Leave this place. We will kill you.”
Undeterred, pastor Steeven applied to a higher district authority and was duly granted permission to build a church. The local authority though, sympathetic to Hindu nationalist agitation, chose to ignore the letter confirming this!
When Steeven then applied to the local magistrates to have the permission recognised, a group of militants took him outside the court and beat him up.
“There were about seven of them. They hit me with rods and sticks,” Steeven said.
Afterwards, he was taken to an animal shed, where he was repeatedly kicked, given an electric shock and partially strangled with a length of rope. He was forced to sign a letter saying he no longer wanted permission to build on the land.
Then he was taken to a Hindu temple, beaten again and forced to sign over the land to the temple.
Hurt and beaten, pastor Steeven had to leave his village and his home.
Currently, Steeven is pastoring a small church in a different district but, despite all he has been through – he wants to return to his village and his former congregation.
Will you help persecuted Christians like Steeven who are willing to endure hardships for the sake of the gospel by donating to Release today?
By sending a generous gift you can help provide essential support to persecuted Christians like Steeven in places where pastors and Christian communities are oppressed for spreading the gospel and simply for being part of a Christian minority.
Thanks to your generosity we can help many pastors, their families and their congregations.
Across South Asia pastors are intimidated, beaten up – and then taken to local police stations where they are accused of fraudulently or forcibly converting Hindus, Muslims or Buddhists. They are often kept in custody even though they are the victims.
According to our partner in India: “Most of the pastors and churches being attacked are independent ones. Due to this they struggle to access help. But, thanks to the generosity of ministries like Release we are there to support them.”
The interventions of Release’s partners in India and elsewhere often lead to Christians being released without any legal cases filed against them. But this work needs funding – and it is work that I can only see increasing, as hostile opposition to the gospel is likely to escalate in 2019.
Will you send a gift of £25 or whatever you can share to help those who face real oppression for the sake of the gospel?
You and I might never experience what pastors like Steeven are up against, but we can show them that we care by helping to provide them with legal aid, shelter, food and other basic supplies for their families, as well as Bibles and discipleship materials for their congregations.
If you want to help those who are experiencing oppression and persecution, please click the Donate Now! button and you can give quickly and securely online.
Together we can help to lift some of their burdens, ease their suffering and let them know that God has answered their prayers through your love and kindness.
With much gratitude,
CEO, Release International
Donating through Release International is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from.
I like to think that I would have the courage to stand up and speak for You when I am surrounded by people who despise You and who would beat me to the ground if I spoke of You, but in my heart I know that I would only have this courage with You within me giving me the strength and the words to use.
Thank You for being this strength to Pastor Steeven, and all those like him, who depend on You when they have lost so much just because they love You.
Help me to be as strong as they are and to always keep You at the centre of all that I do.
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