NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Five Christians were arrested and jailed in India’s Madhya Pradesh state after two of them were beaten and publicly humiliated by Hindu extremists on Easter Sunday. Chandan Chhinchhadi and Dinesh Toppo were resting at home after conducting services at church when five men broke into the house. The attackers beat the pastors for more than an hour, then dragged them into the village square to berate them publicly.
The extremists also filed a police false report against the pastors, accusing them of forcibly converting people to Christianity, according to Gospel for Asia, a missions organization involved in evangelism and church planting in Asia’s unreached regions. When the two pastors and three other believers went to the police station to file their own report, they were arrested and put in jail. Two truckloads of anti-Christian extremists waited outside the police station to see if the Christians would be released, but police kept them overnight. When they were released the next day, GFA leaders took them to a regional mission facility for their own safety.
Easter-time attacks on Christians also were reported at two other locations in Madhya Pradesh, including an attack on a group comprised mostly of children during a Palm Sunday procession. In Andhra Pradesh, a Christian worker was tortured for three hours after returning from a Lenten prayer meeting at another believer’s home. In Uttar Pradesh, police arrested a Christian pastor on Maundy Thursday on false charges of paying families to convert to Christianity.
MAN JAILED IN MEXICO FOR RECEIVING CHRIST — A 25-year-old man in Mexico’s Chiapas state was jailed two days after accepting Christ and refusing to participate in an Easter festival that blends Roman Catholicism with traditional pagan religion. Juan Mendez, a doctrinal instructor in the “traditionalist Catholic” church in the village of Pasté, was jailed overnight.
Mendez told police he refused to participate in the festival because he considered the rites idolatrous, according to the Compass Direct news service. He told authorities he had heard the Gospel in another community and planned to join Alas de Aguila (Eagle’s Wings) church in Pasté. Police also questioned Jose Gomez Hernandez, pastor of that congregation. Members of the church were allowed to visit Mendez in jail.
Another pastor of the congregation, Antonio Vasquez, also has been persecuted by “traditionalist” Catholic authorities. He was jailed once in 1998 and twice in 2000 and members of his congregation abandoned him because of official pressure. In August 2000, village leaders burned down his house and since then he has lived in a makeshift home without water or electricity.
GAZA BIBLE SOCIETY BUILDING BOMBED — The offices of the Bible Society in Gaza were severely damaged by a bomb just hours after Palestinian Authority leaders approved a security plan intended to stop lawlessness in the Gaza Strip. The Bible Society’s security guard was kidnapped and beaten during the attack.
“The first floor was really damaged. The roof has fallen, and everything in the first floor is pretty much destroyed,” Tom Doyle of E3 Partners told Mission Network News. The Bible Society operates with the approval of the Palestinian government “to give out Bibles to those who are interested. They lead a lot of people to the Lord there. They have Bible studies and leadership training and things like that.”
Doyle said the attack may be a response to the fact that 127 churches have been started in the Middle East in the past year. “So many good things are happening. There’s such a hunger and a thirst for the Lord. It definitely is threatening to radical groups in the area, so they certainly want it stopped,” he said. “The political climate is very tense, but in the midst of it, that’s when God is moving because people are desperate and folks are coming to the Lord.”
CHRISTIAN WOMEN FORCED TO HAVE ABORTIONS — A forced abortion campaign reportedly is being conducted in China’s Guangxi and Shandong provinces on women whose pregnancies violate the country’s one-child policy, and Christian women are being forced to endure the procedures in spite of their faith convictions.
One woman, Linrong Wei, whose husband is a house church pastor in Baise City, was dragged from her home by 10 officials from the Population and Family Planning Commission, according to a report from the China Aid Association. Eyewitnesses reported that 40 other “illegal pregnant women” also were forcibly taken to the Youjiang District People’s Hospital, where they were injected with a drug that would induce delivery.
“Family planning” officials reportedly told relatives of the women that their babies would be born and most likely die within 24 hours.
IRANIAN PLANS COULD START MIDDLE EAST ARMS RACE — Concerned about possible Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons, other countries of the Middle East have launched their own programs to build nuclear facilities. About a dozen governments in the region reportedly have asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to help them start their own programs.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are among the states that are hiring contractors, buying equipment and developing an infrastructure for a regional system of reactors, according to The New York Times. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted Jordan’s King Abdullah II as saying, “”The rules have changed. Everybody’s going for nuclear programs.”
The countries insist they are only interested in atomic power, but observers believe most are concerned about the threat a nuclear Iran would pose to their security. Government officials from 21 Middle East countries warned in March that Iran’s nuclear ambitions could start “a grave and destructive nuclear arms race in the region,” the NYT reported.
MILITANT HIT SQUAD TARGETS INDONESIA CHRISTIAN LEADER — The rector of a Christian university in Central Java, Indonesia, is on a list of community and political leaders targeted by a new assassination squad set up by Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamist terror network that operates in Southeast Asia. The gang is believed to consist of about 100 operatives, Maj. Gen. Ansyaad Mbai, Indonesia’s anti-terror chief, told Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper.
“We … know from their propaganda that the West, the Christians, are their enemy. It is logical that they could target Christian priests,” Ansyaad said.
The plot was discovered during a series of raids last month in which seven suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah were detained. Investigators found organization charts of the group and an arms cache that included automatic rifles, ammunition, detonators and dynamite.