By Theodore Shoebat
Hindus in India surrounded two Christian girls, named Meena and Sunita, screaming “Burn them! Burn them!” They beat them with bamboo sticks. They hit them so hard that several times the sticks snapped, and at one point the strike of the bludgeoning weapon forced Sunitra’s wrist bone to protrude from the skin. In the midst of the beatings the Hindus told her “We know about Jesus. He died on a cross and so will you.” As they were being bludgeoned the girls cried out: “Jesus, please forgive them. They don’t know what they do!'” As we read in one report:
Hundreds of thousands of Christians across India are faced with a sobering ultimatum: hide their faith, or risk harassment, intimidation, and even death.
Threats against churches, arson attacks on Christian property, and the harassment and violent abuse of new converts to Christianity are all on the rise in India, where just 2.3 per cent of the population identifies with the faith.
Two young women who have experienced such persecution are Meena, 32, and her 25-year-old sister, Sunita (names have been changed to protect identity).
They were severely beaten by a group of men from their village in Odisha state after news spread that they had converted to Christianity. Remarkably, they praise God for their experiences.
“We knew about persecution in theory because the Bible speaks about it,” Meena told researchers for Christian persecution charity Open Doors. “And when it happened, we thanked God for it.”
The sisters came to faith though a Christian radio show in 2004, and initially felt compelled to hide their conversion for fear of repercussions from local Hindu hard-liners. Two years later, though, they were baptised and began to attend church services. “My faith had grown stronger and I thought, ‘If I die, I will be resurrected,'” Meena explained.
However, about a year later locals held a meeting and decided that Christians were not welcome in their village. They called the sisters’ father, and pressurised him to force the women out of the house. He refused, but stopped paying for their food and clothing.
“We had to take care of ourselves,” Meena recalled. “The entire village rejected us, but we were blessed by the Lord.”
Then a few months ago, Meena, Sunita and two other Christian women were stopped by a group of Hindus while picking berries in their village. They were told they could no longer use the main road or draw from the well, and were forced to escape to a nearby hill. For almost eight hours they sat terrified, as shouts of “Burn them!” Burn them!” resounded.
Eventually they went to stay with Christians in another village, and police officers arranged a “peace meeting” with those who had harassed them.
However when they returned home, locals immediately arrived at the sisters’ house and dragged them outside. It was then that they were heavily beaten with bamboo sticks.
“They broke at least five or six of them on my back. My sister tried to protect me, but she couldn’t. I just cried out to God, ‘Thank you, Lord! Jesus, please forgive them. They don’t know what they do!'” Meena said. She remembers one of her assailants responding: “We know about Jesus. He died on a cross and so will you.”
“I just prayed that God’s will be done, no matter what. Sure, the beating was painful, but inside I felt a tremendous joy. I was worthy to suffer for Jesus,” Meena told Open Doors. “God gives us strength.”
Sunita remembers praying until she lost consciousness during the beating, and when she woke up she saw a bone protruding from her wrist. She managed to crawl away and hide in a shed, praying incessantly to God: “I can die or I can witness. Make me a weapon, Lord. Make me a witness for you.”
The sisters were eventually cared for by a Christian family in another village, but they remain in hiding and are provided with food and other necessities by Open Doors.
“I thank the Lord for persecution,” Meena said. “God had warned us in advance that it would come and that he would take care of us. We were prepared… The gospel was theory for us, but when persecution comes and you don’t backslide but witness for the Lord, you know it is for real. You help us stand strong.”