“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. … All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, 15
The word “martyr” is from the Greek word meaning “witness.” Every believer, no matter their circumstance, is called to “martyr” for Christ—that is, to bear witness to the truth of the Good News about Jesus. Those who give their lives are the ones we call “martyrs” because their testimony is so powerful, so striking, that no observer can ignore the reason for their death.
Even in today’s day and age, Christians have died for the Gospel in India, and the non-Christians around them have taken notice. However, less radical afflictions also serve to manifest the life of Jesus. For instance, a new believing family is expelled from their village for forsaking the idol worship that has characterized their people for generations. In India, it’s called “excommunication,” and it means that the new believers lose their home, their jobs, their friendships, and everything that has been familiar and valuable in their lives. Why would they be willing to suffer such a fate? People in India who observe them will want to know the answer to that question.
Earlier this year in north India, a pastor named Ekansh was preparing for his church’s 25th anniversary celebration, an event which triggered opposition from anti-Christian extremists. Outside of the church one evening, two masked men rode by on a motorcycle and shot him in the head.
Sadly, this is only one of many stories we’ve heard this year of pastors being attacked. In such troubling situations, we lean on God—He is often most visible when things are most awful. In the end, the presence and visibility of God will reach its peak at the coming of the Lord Jesus, when He will judge all people and reward His servants for the entire world to see.
We begin to see a glimmer of hope in the midst of this violent event through the attention that it gained, as the region’s small community of Christians came together in protest. The area has seen more Christian pastors committed to ministry and Church Planting as a result. In many ways, the need for resolution remains, but we are encouraged by the believers’ unity and determination.
Do you seek God during life’s most difficult situations? Do you trust that persecution for your faith is used for His glory?
Lord, I pray for protection over India’s Christian leaders, serving in many capacities for your Kingdom. Please provide for the family of the pastor who was shot, and use their testimonies to bring others to you. I also ask that you would remind me of your presence daily, and that you would give me strength to be bold in my faith, even if others look down on me for it.
– Todd VanEk, President & CEO of Mission India