‘Please pray for me, for my children and for my church.’
That was Mangamma’s quiet plea to Release staff when they met her.
On a terrible night for Mangamma and her family a group of Indian communists abducted her husband John, a pastor, from outside their home in Laxmipuram village. As they began beating him Mangamma tried to intervene. For doing so she was taken inside her home and beaten herself.
She contacted friends in the village, and some time later her husband’s body was found in the forest. He had been stabbed in the back and hit on the back of his neck with an axe.
What had prompted this murderous attack?
The communist activists, known in India as Naxalites, recruit people for their cause in the area where John and his brother had been preaching the gospel and establishing churches.
Time and again the Naxalites had found that when people turn to follow Jesus Christ they are not interested in supporting and following a Maoist, revolutionary agenda. In other words, the gospel (and its impact on people’s lives) got in the way.
And so John became a martyr for Christ. He had previously been threatened and told that
if he stopped preaching the group would let him live.
Mangamma, who has four children, was still in something of a state of shock when Release staff met her. She is being
supported by Release’s partner in India, but her story – and her plea – should prompt us to pray.
Writing to struggling, suffering Christians, who were in danger of falling away, the writer of Hebrews declares: “Let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16; ESV).
Grace to help in time of need. As our high priest Jesus opens the way to God for us; he makes grace possible. Because of Jesus we can come to God – sinners though we are – with confidence. Through him we discover God’s mercy – because we are sinners; and God’s grace to help – because we live in a world that is hostile to Christ and the gospel.
Here is our response to Mangamma’s story and plea. Here is what we would want her to know. Here is how to pray
for her – and others like her.