India (MNN/GFA) — Three Bible school students in the
north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh were beaten over weekend and their Bible
school vandalized by a group of Hindu extremists who oppose the growth of
Christianity in their nation.
The students had divided into groups and were
witnessing in nearby villages when they were confronted and beaten by members
of an extremist group. The group then took the students to the police station.
Shortly after the attack, a mob of about 60 members
of this same group came to the home Bible school and vandalized the facility.
"They caused a lot of damage," reported a
field correspondent, "breaking the windows and shelves and tearing apart
the books before they left."
The extremist group is a branch of the VHP (Vishwa
Hindu Parishad, or "World Hindu
Council"), an organization dedicated to promoting an ultra-nationalistic
philosophy that "to be Indian is to be Hindu." Groups such as these
often oppose Christian work with violence.
Local police responded to the attack, locking up the
Bible school and taking everyone — staff, students and a women's ministry team
— into custody.
"It was first thought that the police were
against us," said the correspondent. "But then we came to know that
the police took them in order to protect them."
By Saturday evening, police released the group and
posted four officers to guard the Bible school overnight. "It is not sure whether or not the fanatics will
return," our correspondent stated.
Gospel for Asia currently trains thousands of
students in Bible colleges throughout Asia. First-year students typically
attend home Bible schools, which offer a more personal mentoring environment,
and which then feed into the larger Bible colleges for the students' final two
years of missionary training.
Gospel for Asia leaders are asking Christians to pray
for this situation to be resolved, for the safety of everyone involved and for
continued freedom to preach the Gospel in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Himachal Pradesh recently became the eighth state in
India to pass anti-conversion legislation. If the bill is signed into law by
the governor, it would impose fines and prison time on both those who embrace
Christianity and those who introduce them to Christ.