The father of three remembers verbatim the most common threat he received over the past few years: “Here we perform poojas [rituals] and worship our gods and goddesses; you will not bring this foreign religion here and you better give it up, or else we will kill you.”
But the family wasn’t prepared for the nightmare they experienced a few days ago.
As they got ready for bed, they heard the footsteps outside getting closer and looked out to see angry villagers—people they knew—shouting and carrying thick bamboo sticks. In an instant, the villagers had broken inside their house—followed by a blur of angry fists, arms, sticks, screams and blood as villagers attempted to beat all five family members into submission. As they beat them with the sticks, they shouted yelled they were kicking them out of the village.
Scared for their lives, Balraj, his wife and three kids, bleeding badly from the attacks, fled into the surrounding woods where they spent the night.
The next morning, they found their house had been ransacked. That day, the village elders called a meeting and warned the family about reporting anything to the police and threatened their lives if they continued to follow Christ.
Our partners in ministry, Samuel* and Heena*, explain that in certain parts of India lodging a complaint with police when you’re a Christian is extremely difficult. “[Often,] the police won’t want to listen to you if you are a Christian,” Samuel says. “In fact, they can question you: ‘’Why are you trying to convert Hindus? Are you bribing Hindus to follow your religion?’ So if you go to the police or a government agency, you may experience even more persecution.”
Heena adds: “Or the police will simply tell you to make compromises: ‘You have to stay in this village and live with the other villagers. Don’t follow Jesus. Just do what everybody else does.’”
Balraj’s family was visibly shaken. And all five were severely wounded in the attacks and hospitalized.