India (MNN) — Last August, Hindu extremists charged into an 80-person training session for Children's Bible Clubs in Karnataka state and began beating various missionaries.
The extremists held the ministry workers for at least 14 hours. When police came, no extremists were arrested, but instead, eight of the Christian victims were taken into custody under the charge of "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs."
Mission India President Dave Stravers has testified again and again to the fact that the charges placed on these believers were frivolous. The ministry was hopeful to hear the same thing from a judge when the case went to court on July 2, 2010, but as it turned out, no one heard much of anything.
"They showed up for court on July 2 and were told, ‘No, your hearing has been postponed until September,'" says Stravers of the eight.
Stravers says this is not at all the first time that the Indian court system has postponed a trial or delayed a verdict. In fact, he points out one case from 1984 which was only recently concluded. Still, there seems to be more than just normal court delay behind this particular case.
"We feel it's probably some organized harassment on the part of the extremists who attacked them and the officials in this state of India," Stravers explains.
Nevertheless, the ministry workers in question are not discouraged. Stravers says anyone working with Mission India is familiar with Christ's command: "do not be afraid," and more or less expects persecution. They remain motivated by the phenomenal response from the children to whom they minister, as well as their families, who often in turn come to follow Christ.
"The reason that Christians are being attacked in this way is that so many millions of people in India are so open to the Gospel," explains Stravers. "It's an unprecedented spiritual movement taking place in India. It's just a very small, powerful minority that are opposing what Christians are doing."
Stravers says most people are open to the Gospel and excited for their children to attend Bible Clubs. Pray that this openness would continue and that the Lord would continue to work in India and through His workers. Pray that the trial would be rescheduled soon and that this issue would be resolved in favor of the innocent victims. Pray that they would continue to boldly persevere.