Rebuilding Christian Families Devastated by Persecution in Assam
William Stark, Regional Manager for Africa
International Christian Concern
When Christianity reached a small village in Assam, India in 2012, it was met with extreme violence and led to seven Christian families being beaten, robbed and left homeless because of their faith. Hiding in the jungle with nothing, these Christians were left to wonder if the God of their new faith would provide for them in their time of need. Putting their trust in God to come to their aid, these Christians had their faith rewarded in more ways than they ever could have imagined.
Christianity Comes to Assam
In 2012, one of Moneswar Rabha's daughters was very sick. Being a Hindu from a rural area of India and with little access to modern medicine, Moneswar turned to the Hindu priest of the village for help. The priest told Moneswar if he were to sacrifice one of his chickens to local Hindu gods, his daughter would be healed.
"Upon hearing this, I sacrificed a chicken without success," Moneswar told ICC in an interview. "I then sacrificed more chickens to heal my daughter; still no healing." In total, Moneswar sacrificed over 20 chickens.
When sacrificing chickens did nothing to heal his daughter, Moneswar returned to the village priest. Upon hearing the chickens did not work, the priest told Moneswar he needed to sacrifice a goat instead. Again, following the direction of the Hindu priest, Moneswar sacrificed a goat. Still his daughter's illness continued.
After the goat sacrifice failed to heal his daughter, Moneswar was desperate. Where else could he turn? If the gods weren't listening, what could he do to save her? Finally, someone from Moneswar's village told him about a Christian pastor traveling in the area. The villager told him he had seen Christians pray over people for healing.
Desperate, Moneswar tracked down this traveling pastor and invited him to his home to pray over his daughter. After the pastor prayed over his daughter, she was healed. Moneswar and his family were astounded by this miracle and asked to be taught about Christianity. After several meetings, Moneswar and his entire family converted from Hinduism to Christianity and were baptized.
A Night of Terror
After his conversion experience, Moneswar could not keep his new faith to himself. "I would tell everyone I met about Christianity and the healing of my daughter," Moneswar said. "I wanted everyone to know."
When the other villagers heard Moneswar's story about Christianity, many became interested in his new faith. After seven families in the village had converted to Christianity and a small house fellowship was formed, the Hindu village leaders felt threatened. They called Moneswar to a meeting where they told him he was no longer allowed to spread Christianity. The village leaders claimed Christianity was a foreign religion and warned Moneswar if he continued to spread it he would be punished. Despite this, Moneswar continued to talk about Christianity and hold regular fellowship meetings at his house.
When the village leaders discovered Moneswar did not heed their warning, they rounded up a mob of radicals at night to punish Moneswar. Before the mob could find Moneswar, he was warned by another villager and fled into the jungle. Two other Christians from the village, Prasata and Michael, volunteered to go to Moneswar's home and protect his family from the radicals.
When the mob arrived at the house, they demanded Moneswar be given over to them so they could teach him a lesson. When Prasata and Michael refused to let the mob into the house, they were beaten. The men then entered Moneswar's home and dragged his wife, Mala, into the street and beat her too.
Barely conscious, the three Christians were taken to the meeting house of the village leaders where they were interrogated and beaten with flashlights into the late hours of the night. As they were tortured, their new faith was mocked. Their tormentors said, "If your Jesus is real, he would stop us from torturing you." The two men were beaten so badly their attackers believed they were dead.
Worked up into a destructive frenzy, the mob went to the homes of all the Christian families in the village and destroyed everything. They beat the Christians they found, burned down their homes and looted all of the valuables. As the Christian families fled the village, they found Prasata, Michael and Mala in the meeting house and carried them off to safety. From that night on, these Christian families were banished from their village.
Resettled and Restored
Fortunately, this is not where the story ends. After the attack, ICC's Regional Manager for Central Asia, who had worked in Assam in the past, discovered the plight of these seven families and sent International Christian Concern's (ICC) India staff out to meet them and see how ICC could assist.
After discussing their options, ICC helped these persecuted families resettle in a new village where a Christian community was already established. ICC assisted with the construction of new homes, supplying food and starting sustainable businesses that will provide these families with livelihoods for years to come. In August 2013, ICC visited these seven families in their new village to see how they were doing now.
"We were crying and hopeless when the radicals beat us, demolished our houses and looted everything," Moneswar said during ICC's visit. "We became poor in just a moment and worried about many things. God is the great provider. When we were driven from our village, I was working on a boat as only a laborer. I never thought I would be the owner of my own boat. I am very grateful that God led ICC to us to provide for us in our time of need."
"During our distress, we were in sorrow," Michael told ICC. "Then one man came to us, asking about our wellbeing. This surprised us. Later we came to know that from the other side of the world, people were praying for us and wanted to make sure we were OK. This amazed us and boosted our faith. Only by God's grace we were able to overcome our distress. I thank God for not leaving us, but using us to glorify Him."
For interviews, contact William Stark, Regional Manager for Africa: RM-AfricaAsia@persecution.org
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