Outreach team attacked in Maharashtra; Pastors' wives beaten

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MAHARASHTRA, India — Anti-Christian extremists, in punishment for Christians' faith in Christ, stripped the clothes from two pastors' wives and beat them before a village council.

The assault followed by a month another Maharashtra attack that left three Gospel for Asia Bible College students hospitalized after being severely beaten.

K.P. Yohannan, president of Gospel for Asia, said both incidents are evidence of the growing oppression of Christians in central India.

According to Gospel for Asia officials, the three students, along with a few Christians from a local church, were returning from sharing the gospel in a neighboring village when they were attacked. The Hindu fundamentalists beat the believers with belts and large sticks, and pummeled them with their fists.

The attack was interrupted when a group of local residents intervened, stopping the beating and rescuing the believers.

The pastors' wives in Chhattisgarh state were "dragged before the community council, stripped naked and beaten for accepting Jesus and following Him," reported GFA regional leader M.A. Lalachan.

Despite beatings and humiliations, believers in central India continue to stand strong, GFA officials said. "The students injured in the attack were released from the hospital after three days, and the women are recovering.

"They are all back to the ministry again," wrote a GFA field correspondent reporting on the Maharashtra team. "They are determined and committed to the cause."

Earlier in the day of the attack on the students, 12 people in the village visited by the team had come to the Lord.

"A new mission station has been started there," the correspondent wrote.

"Believers are experiencing increased persecution and attacks," Yohannan said. "It is our duty and our privilege to stand with them in prayer and fasting, that we may share in our calling to see millions of lost men, women and children come to know the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ."