Two Gospel for Asia native missionaries, Rajat Tanak and Savir Santosh, were forced to seek shelter in a sugarcane field to escape a group of hostile anti-Christian extremists in Uttarakhand, India.
Rajat and Savir were traveling to a village where a GFA-related church pastor, Adil Mehal, had invited them to show Man of Mercy, an Indian-made film about the life of Jesus. As the two were walking with their film equipment, a man stopped them and expressed interest in seeing the film. However, when Rajat and Savir invited him to come to the showing, the man’s demeanor suddenly changed. He accused them of violating the state’s anti-conversion law.
“You are trying to convert people to Christianity by using bribes,” the man yelled.
As the man shouted the accusations, other people from the area gathered around them and began questioning them. The missionaries answered their questions truthfully, telling them they were not forcing anyone to become a Christian and were not using unlawful practices. The people finally let Rajat and Savir go, but not without threatening them first.
Continuing on their trip to show the film, Rajat and Savir were stopped again by a different group of anti-Christian extremists.
The group snatched the Man of Mercy DVDs and sound equipment from the missionaries and threw it on the ground. When Rajat and Savir tried to pick the DVDs up, one of the extremists stomped on the discs. Then, the extremists beat up Rajat and Savir and forced them to go to a local shop. The owner of the shop was the extremist group leader. He also began accusing them of illegally converting people to Christianity.
The group was going to take the missionaries’ LCD projector, but first they allowed Rajat and Savir to go outside with two escorts. During this time, they ran into some nearby sugarcane fields in an effort to save the projector. Because the fields were so dense, the two missionaries were able to escape.
Rajat and Savir waited in the field until the extremists gave up their search, and then they called Pastor Adil to tell him what had happened. When the pastor heard about their situation, he cancelled their scheduled film showing in his village. The local Bible colleges and GFA main office also began praying for their safe return.
The missionaries waited in the sugarcane field until 3 a.m., when they felt it would be safe to venture out into the darkness. Rajat and Savir walked for three hours until they got to a main road, then caught a bus going to a village where a GFA district supervisor lives. They finally reached the safety of his home later that day.
When members of the extremist group found out that Rajat and Savir were working with Pastor Adil, they went to his house, but he was not there. They told his wife, who answered the door, that they would kill Pastor Adil if he ever allowed the film team to come to their village.
For a while, Pastor Adil had to conduct his ministry in secret because of the extremists’ threats. Now, he is able to freely minister in the area himself, but the extremists told him he cannot bring missionaries in from other places. Rajat has continued film ministry in other villages, and Savir is now working to plant a church in Uttarakhand.
Pastor Adil requests prayer that he will be able to continue his ministry in the village. He also asks for prayer that the extremists will come to know the Lord. Also pray that Rajat and Savir’s ministries will be fruitful, and many will see Christ’s love through them.