India: Pastor shot, killed On Street After Baptizing New Converts

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Three unidentified men shot and killed a pastor in the east Indian state of Jharkhand while he was returning home with his wife after baptizing new believers, according to a report.

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Pastor Salim Stephen Surin, a part-time evangelist in Rania village of Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district, was killed on Dec. 8, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported Friday.

“They killed my husband in front of my own eyes,” Tarsis, the wife of the slain pastor, was quoted as saying. “I was terrified seeing my husband collapse having been shot in the chest. I started to think about my children and loudly cried out to God to save me and take care of my [two] children.”

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Tarsis said she pushed one of the three men who shot her husband, after which he pointed the gun toward her. “I ran into the thick bushes and the nearby forest. I probably walked for more than 10 hours to reach my home. I purposely did not take the road to avoid the attackers.”

At the time of the attack, the pastor and his wife were on the couple’s motorbike returning from Putikda village where the pastor baptized five people.

Later that evening, local travelers discovered Surin’s lifeless body lying on the road.

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Local Christians told ICC that Christians in that village had been threatened several times. “According to one source, the Christians of Putikda have been told they must renounce their Christian faith,” ICC said. “Despite the threats, Pastor Surin continued to visit Putikda and support its Christian community.”

Police were still investigating the case, as of early Saturday.

Jharkhand and the adjoining Chhattisgarh states are part of India’s tribal (indigenous) belt and the tribal Christians have faced heightened attacks since September.

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Radical Hindu groups have been demanding that the government ban those who convert to Christianity from receiving education and employment opportunities provided for the indigenous people.

Believers in India—number 10 on the 2020 World Watch List—are often shunned, unjustly arrested, attacked—even killed—because they choose to follow Jesus and not Hinduism or the local religion. Our Indian family needs the prayers of the global church to stand strong in the midst of persecution—and to remain a light for Christ in the world’s second-most populated country.

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