“I was always scared to death with the thought that fundamentalists will attack and stone us because we minister to people in the name of Jesus. I am so encouraged to come to this seminar and to hear the testimonies of people who faced persecution in their ministries and still continued serving Jesus. I was also strengthened by the teachings on how to stand strong in the midst of storms; this has driven away all my fears. I thank God and Open Doors for this.” These were the words of Pratima Pagare who attended a Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS) seminar in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India. Open Doors continues to offer these seminars to prepare Christians to meet persecution with wisdom, courage and power.
And persecution does come to Christians in India. Surji Maida, a devoted Christian, and his family have become recent targets of persecution because of their faith. On July 15, his family, who hosts a regular Sunday church meeting in their home, was attacked by 10 men. The family fled to a nearby teak forest spending the night there under cover of trees in the midst of a heavy rain storm.
Maida started to believe in Christ 13 years ago. A convert from Hindu, along with his father Gotu, his mother Jeema Bein and his wife Kali are the only believers in their extended family. In addition, Maida and Kali have a two-month-old daughter, Salomi. Basically a farmer with little means, he and his family open their home every Sunday allowing 20 families to meet for Sunday church. Last December Maida was confronted by a group of villagers and their extended family and was warned of dire consequences for leaving his family faith and believing in Jesus Christ.
Then, last month, while Maida, Gotu, Jeema, Kali and baby Salomi were sitting inside their house, 10 armed men, acting on false, trumped up charges, approached the house and started to pelt it with stones. Maida’s extended family and relatives were among the attackers. Using vulgar language they started to abuse Maida and his family for leaving the Hindu faith and becoming Christians. They called upon Maida to come out of his house so that they could kill him. Silently, the family slipped out of the house and escaped to a teak forest about one mile from their home. His wife and daughter fled the next day to her father’s home. Maida and his parents eventually returned to their home in spite of the threats to care for their livestock and farm land.
The back wall of Maida’s home was demolished and over a thousand pounds of corn, their yearly supply, was missing. Also, a few hens, 5.5 pounds of silver belonging to Maida’s wife and over $400 in cash had been taken. A team member from Open Doors who resides near the area met with Maida the day following the attack. They went to the police station, along with six other believers, in order to file a First Information Report (FIR). After an investigation, the police arrested five men who since have been released on bail. The other five remain at large in the village. Meanwhile, the threats continue. Grateful for the support and training that he received, he knows that he and his family can withstand this storm or persecution.
Father, we bring before You Maida and his family and ask that you sustain them, preserve their faith and grant them courage in the midst of this current trial. And we think of the many Christians in India who live in fear of persecution for their faith in You. Thank You for the work of Open Doors there in training them up to stand with wisdom, faith and courage in the midst of persecution. Amen