A mob of Hindus has taken a church leader hostage and is demanding the delivery into their hands of the senior pastor, according to new reports of the persecution of Christians in India from Voice of the Martyrs.

It was just a week ago that a report surfaced about Pastor Reginald Howell, who had traveled from his home to the nearby city of Hanumangarh in Rajasthan to visit Christians and pray for the sick.

On his way home, the pastor of Good Shepherd Community Church was attacked by and beaten severely, sources inside India told Voice of the Martyrs, but since police refused to accept his complaint doctors also refused to treat him.

Now some of those sources, who often aren’t identified for their own protection, have told Voice of the Martyrs that Pastor John Selvan and Brother Vijay were returning home from conducting a prayer meeting in Ghelahalli, Bangalore, India, when they were attacked.

The persecution happened when a mob of more than 30 Hindu extremists found them.

“They [the extremists] severely beat the men with sticks, axes and other weapons,” said the VOM sources. “The extremists are still holding Brother Vijay, the motorbike and their cell phones.”

The sources told VOM that the Hindu extremists are demanding Pastor Selvan return – with the senior pastor of their church – or “face serious consequences.”

“Pray for the safety of Vijay and for Christians in India who continue to face difficult and dangerous situations because of their belief in Jesus Christ,” the VOM report said.

Voice of the Martyrs Canada has noted that it’s just another in a series of reports from India on attacks on Christians.

“According to the Global Council of Indian Christians, at approximately 8 p.m. on March 20, a Christian worker identified only as Pawar was attacked in his home in Navi, Mumbai by 15 Hindu militants,” one new report said.

Also on March 23, an independent worker, Rev. P. Abraham, and a college professor, Jacob Thomas, were seriously hurt as they were beaten while returning from a gospel meeting in Shri Ganganagar Rajasthan, the report said. To make matters worse, the Christians were arrested and jailed on a complaint filed by the attackers of “forcible conversion.”

Then just a few days ago, evangelists from Salem Voice Ministries were attacked and beaten by Muslim militants in Mullakkudi, Kerala state. The three – Satheeth Kumar, George Thomas and Kunjum Mani – were preparing for a noon meeting when they were questioned about their plans, and then attacked.

In the earlier report, involving Pastor Howell, he suffered serious injuries from being beaten on his back with an iron rod, but doctors refused to treat him because police refused to allow him to file a complaint.

The incidents are being reported even as Indian states adopt various pieces of “freedom” legislation concerning religion.

“Rajasthan State has a so-called ‘Freedom of Religion Bill’ that is used as a tool in the hands of fundamentalists to harass Christians,” said the VOM contacts, who report on the various attacks, discriminations and persecutions of Christians because of their beliefs.

“The cases of anti-Christian attacks in this area keep increasing, and the State Administration turns a blind eye to the persecution,” they said, according to The Voice of the Martyrs.

VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton said the problem is getting worse.

“The situation for our brothers and sisters in India is deteriorating,” he said. “But God is faithful, and even in these difficult times with so much persecution, the church there is growing. We are thankful for the courageous example of Indian Christians.”

Voice of the Martyrs
is a non-profit, interdenominational ministry working worldwide to help Christians who are persecuted for their faith, and to educate the world about that persecution. Its headquarters are in Bartlesville, Okla., and it has 30 affiliated international offices.

It was launched by the late Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, who started smuggling Russian Gospels into Russia in 1947, just months before Richard was abducted and imprisoned in Romania where he was tortured for his refusal to recant Christianity.

He eventually was released in 1964 and the next year he testified about the persecution of Christians before the U.S. Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee, stripping to the waist to show the deep torture wound scars on his body.

The group that later was renamed The Voice of the Martyrs was organized in 1967, when his book, “Tortured for Christ,” was released.

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