Friday, July 11, 2014

A Modern Martyr

Bishop D.B. H. was traveling by car on July 2nd to an urgent meeting. Church construction, a pastor’s health problems, serious drought conditions affecting the people… all were pressing problems. But a phone call from a sobbing pastor caused him to set aside lesser issues as horrifying news stunned him.
Market day, July 1, in the village of B---, was just like any other. People had come from surrounding villages, done their shopping and returned home. D--- and S---, a young couple had done the same. They were new Christians, attending a church led by an ER School of Evangelism graduate. The couple prepared dinner over an open fire, as was their custom, and ate by firelight since there is no electricity in their village.
S---, the wife, received Christ after hearing the gospel presented by a woman from the church. The woman evangelist was not literate, but her determination to learn the Bible had led her to complete Portable Bible School training as an oral learner.  S--- was moved by the presentation, became a Christian, and witnessed to her husband D---. He also received Christ as his Savior. They were new Christians, and the only ones in their remote village. There was mild opposition at first from their Hindu neighbors, but it was not worrisome.  Little did they know there were plots being made in secret.
That night the couple lay sleeping. S--- is ready to give birth nearly any day, and she has an 18-month-old as well.  In the thick darkness, a group of hostile men entered the house, and with a friendly greeting tried to wake D---.  S--- woke first, and challenged the men, alarmed by their presence in her home. One man pushed her aside quickly and waved a bright torch in her eyes so she could not recognize any faces.
The men ordered her to leave the house immediately, while one of them kicked D--- until he wakened. Torn between love for her husband and a desire to protect her children S--- fled, while begging the men not to hurt her husband. As she left she could hear the groans of her husband, who was crying out in pain.
S--- began screaming for others to come to help her husband, but no one responded. Eventually, deathly silence fell upon the house. It was over. D--- was dead, hanged from the rafters of their home, martyred for his faith in Christ. Only when light began to dawn did anyone dare to come to S---’s aid.
The murderers protected themselves well. They have not been identified, and to this date no one has been arrested. The crime has been reported to police, but there is little hope that any justice will come in earthly terms.  Great fear has come upon all the Christians in the region – we must pray for them and for their pastors and leaders. We must also pray for salvation even for those who have killed this precious believer, widowed his wife, and made his children fatherless.
ER has already responded with financial assistance for S---. She was forced by custom to abandon the home she shared with D---. She will relocate to a nearby city where she will receive the ministry she needs to get through this crisis. Pray for her now as she brings a second child into the world, and as she faces a bleak future in a culture that makes life difficult for widows.  And continue to pray for thousands of Christians in India and around the world whose decision to follow Christ may cost them their lives.

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