Chandan Devi lay on the floor, her shoulder bruised from the blow she had just received. The door shut with a loud bang. Did her husband scream when they dragged him out of his house? We didn’t dare ask. 35-year-old Chandan wipes her tears away with the end of her sari. She is a child of God, mother of four and now, a widow for Jesus’ sake.
Welcome to India.
40-year-old Pastor Aadarsh lived with his wife Chandan and four children in a village in Central India where Naxalite militants are very active. This Maoist group fights for the rights of tribal groups and often views Christians as traitors to their cause and informants of the police. In the last ten years, thousands of Christians have been attacked, beaten-up, kidnapped, raped and killed by these Naxalites.
But it’s the individual, smaller stories that are the most heartbreaking. Aadarsh was a faithful pastor and led 25-30 people from a certain tribe to Christ. All of them were previously animist believers. Chandan describes him as a prayerful person who specifically had a heart for youth. “He encouraged them to not join the Maoists but instead finish their studies to achieve something in life.”
The Naxalites were very upset with his activities, and a group of 30 men forced their way into Aadarsh and Chandan’s home. None of the children were present. “They shouted that they were going to kill him. I begged them to end my life too. When they dragged him outside the house, I clung to him. They hit me hard on my shoulder and I dropped to the floor. The door shut and they disappeared into the jungle where Aadarsh was then murdered.”
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It took the villagers a few hours to discover his lifeless body in the bush. Because of the remote location of the village and the dense forest, the police were unable to help and villagers were too afraid to interfere during the assault. The funeral was led by the wife of a pastor who had led Aadarsh to Christ and was a spiritual father to him. None of the Christian men were able to come due to the high risks.
Shortly after his death, volunteers sponsored and trained by Open Doors visited Chandan, who had fled her village. “We first bought her groceries and clothes,” a group member says. “She had left her village with only the clothes on her back and was in desperate need of practical help. This comforted her.”
The meeting was intense. Chandan was obviously still in shock. She recounted the story with bursts of short sentences. When she was asked, “Do you consider leaving Jesus?”, she replied, “I’d rather die.”
Please continue to pray with Chandan and her children, as they cope in these hard times and persecution, that their faith in Christ Jesus continue to be strong, and that the light of God would shine through them to the people around and even the killers of her husband.
India ranks 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors 2019 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.