When pastor Karma Oraon was told by Hindu extremists in India that they would not stop beating him until he worshipped the monkey god, he felt Christ close to him, he said.
“In those moments when they were kicking and beating me, I felt that even if I die now, the Lord will make the ministry I leave behind fruitful,” Pastor Oraon told Morning Star News. “We are just a few gathering in the name of Jesus. He is our strength.”
His small flock of eight people was meditating on Scripture on Christmas Eve at 10:30 a.m. in Harmu village of Ranchi District, Jharkhand state, when twice as many Hindu nationalists brandishing wooden stick intruded, shouting, “Praise Bajrang Bali.” Bajrang Bali is another name for the popular monkey god Hanuman.
“They forcefully dragged me outside when we were in the middle of meditating on the Word of God,” Pastor Oraon said. “They spewed many words in extreme foul language and beat me on my chest repeatedly.”
As he was dragged out by the collar, one of the Hindu extremists video-recorded the scene, also asking his accomplices to record, forward and circulate the video, sources said.
The Hindu extremists repeatedly asked the pastor his name, refusing to believe him, as his name is typical of area tribal people who practice indigenous religions, not Christianity, he said. They called him an idiot, slapped him and told him to stop lying, and when he showed them his national identification card, they tore the original document to pieces, Pastor Oraon said.
“They slapped me and said, ‘You are Oraon? Tell us what you must do, being an Oraon? Should you follow the Adivasi [indigenous] religion or this foreign religion?’” he told Morning Star News. “They told me, ‘Immediately you should give up Christianity and embrace Sarnaism/Sarna[indigenous religions) – if you don’t, you will be brutally murdered.”
Pastor Oraon said they told the congregation, “All the Christians in this area beware! There is no place for Christianity here. All of you must embrace Sarna. If anybody goes against this rule, their houses will be set on fire and they will be killed along with their families.”
They kicked him and expelled him from the village, he said.
Chotu Munda, 21, said he was beaten when he tried to rescue the 34-year-old pastor and female church members who had also tried to separate the assailants from Pastor Oraon. The pastor noted, “They scolded the sisters in very vulgar language for coming to help rescue me.”
That night at 10 p.m., he went to a police station, but officers refused to register a case against the assailants or even receive his complaint, he said.
“I never had an experience of opposition when I preached gospel or visited families to pray for the sick. But I seek inspiration from my Lord; people have crossed every limit to humiliate Him and crucify Him, but He patiently bore their torture for my sake, for my sins,” Pastor Oraon said. “I strongly feel the presence of my Lord Jesus in all this. Had He not granted the strength to endure, I could have never overcome from what happened.”