What started as a prank in preparation for a local religious festival in Assam, India, turned violent this month, resulting in the destruction of property at a Gospel for Asia-supported Bible College and a death threat against one of its faculty members.
In preparation for the harvest festival, young people in this northeastern Indian state have a tradition of holding all-night bonfires, punctuated with singing and dancingalong with stealing chickens, vegetables and firewood from the local villages.
They also go door-to-door collecting money for the festival.
Taking a Stand
Because the festival celebrates a traditional god worshiped in that village, the Bible college leaders politely declined to donate any money when the young people came to the school.
With escalating anger, the young locals began demanding money then turned to violence when none was forthcoming.
A mob of about 100 people, armed with axes and knives, attacked the school, tearing down fences, cutting electrical wires and destroying one wall of the college chapel.
They also threatened to kill Darvin Paswan, the school's training coordinator, if he tried to stop their rampage. When some of the Bible college students tried to intervene, the mob's leaders threatened them, as well.
Calm has returned, but the school is asking for prayer: First for those who attacked them; next, that such an incident will not happen again; and lastly, that funds will be available to repair the damage from the attack.
"This terrible event is just one indication of how badly the Enemy wants to harm our ministry," said GFA President K.P. Yohannan. "But it is certainly not the only example."
"On the same day we received the report about the attack on the Bible college, we received news that anti-Christian radicals in another state are threatening to beat Pastor Ajuna Etty.
"His crime? Pastor Ajuna's fellowship has grown to 75 believers, and he is sharing the Gospel in 10 surrounding villages! It shows that those who oppose the Gospel will resort to anything to stop others from knowing about God's wonderful love.
"Truly this is a time to prayfor our Bible college, for Pastor Ajuna, and for those who persecute them and do violence against these messengers of peace."
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon