Around 6 p.m. on a Sunday evening in March, the niece of an Assemblies of God pastor in Southern Asia went to the local market. Many villagers were already at the market, dancing drunkenly in celebration of a tribal holy festival.
The pastor — a former Hindu saved 14 years ago after his wife was delivered from demon possession — is a well-known figure in the village. Rejected even by members of their own families, the pastor and his wife have worked under violent persecution for years.
But that March night at the market quickly became the family’s bloodiest struggle yet. Upon entering the market, the pastor’s niece was immediately attacked by drunken villagers and narrowly escaped being raped.
The pastor’s son and nephew realized what was happening and rushed to the girl’s aid, causing a desperate fight that ended after both young men were beaten unconscious with rods.
When the pastor, his wife, and their other teenage son entered the market to intervene, the mob rushed in again and continued its rampage. The pastor’s elbow, shoulder, and leg were broken, and he was left unconscious.
The pastor’s wife was dragged through the street, stripped of her clothes, and brutalized. She managed to escape and throw herself over her husband’s body, stopping villagers who were preparing to throw the unconscious pastor over a bridge.
When police arrived on the scene, the nephew and son were immediately arrested on false charges. The local medical clinic refused to treat the pastor, so another minister made a nearly 800-mile round trip to take the pastor and his wife out of the area for treatment. After multiple surgeries, the couple are beginning a slow healing process.
“This attack is only the most recent attempt to derail the pastor’s committed gospel witness in his village. For years he has faced continued opposition to his ministry,” states Omar Beiler, AGWM Eurasia regional director. “Please continue to pray for this family’s emotional and physical healing. Pray that God will divinely protect them from future attacks. Pray that local authorities will pursue justice in place of false accusations. Most critically, pray that the gospel will be shared and that these attackers will come to Christ.”
For an expanded version of this article, see the AG World Missions site.