Friday, March 11, 2005

Persecution Reaches GFA Students Across India

Following the severe beating of six Gospel for Asia seminary students, a wave of persecution is testing GFA missionaries. On February 26 and 27, two groups of GFA students in two different states were beaten while on outreach.

In the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, two Bible school students in their first year of studies were doing weekend outreach among a tribe of tent dwellers on February 26. The young men were distributing tracts, praying for the sick and sharing their testimonies when a group of six villagers began questioning them. The students tried to calm them but the situation quickly escalated, and the six men began kicking and punching them. A hit on the head gave one brother a lump "the size of a baseball," and the other brother had intense pain in his back and legs. Initially neither one was able to walk or sit upright, but by God's grace neither suffered permanent injuries.

In Uttaranchal state, five third-year Bible college students had been doing outreach in their area since January and had already established a fellowship, Sunday school and after school tutoring program for children. After a worship service Sunday, February 27th, they were giving out literature when two men on motorbikes confronted them.

After showing the missionaries their police badges, the two men beat the students, accused them of being thieves and forcing conversions, and took them to the police station. Three days later, GFA leaders received news they were released, but only after enduring multiple beatings and being warned never to come back.

Despite the persecution, each student remained strong in their call and determined not to give up. The two students from Jammu and Kashmir said on Sunday that they were both encouraged in their spirits and glad the Lord chose them to be witnesses for Him.

"Our bodies are hurting like anything," one of the five students from Uttaranchal said, "but we are happy to be beaten for Jesus." He continued, "We are ready to do more work for Jesus. We are not afraid."