Three native Gospel for Asia missionaries in India who were captured and threatened with death have been released by anti-Christian militants "in a miraculous turn of events," the agency reported late Friday.
In a statement released by Gospel for Asia (GFA) last week, the organization reported that hostage-takers had captured, severely beaten and threatened to kill Pastor Manrathan, his wife and one other believer in India's northeastern state of Bihar. The hostage-takers reportedly accused the hostages of desecrating their village with the Gospel.
They were "severely beaten and tied to a sacred tree by an anti-Christian group" since Thursday, September 9, added GFA President K.P. Yohannan in a report released to GFA supporters, which include many evangelical Christians.
The three missionaries were reportedly held hostage and threatened unless a ransom of 25,000 Indian rupees (roughly $550 USD) was paid, a huge amount in the impoverished region, GFA said earlier.
Upon hearing of the news of their release, Yohannan sent a second release stating, "While I am still waiting on the full details, I wanted to inform you of this wonderful news as soon as possible."
He added, "We are so grateful for how the Lord has answered the prayers of thousands of believers worldwide."
Yohannan said asked the Christian community to "continue to pray for these three native missionaries as they recover from their injuries" and that "they would take hold of God's grace made so abundant during suffering such as theirs."
He stressed that many other Indian Christians "continue to face opposition, persecution, imprisonment and even death for the sake of Jesus." In recent years, several GFA missionaries have reportedly been killed.
Currently over 14,000 GFA pastors and missionaries, planting 10 new churches a day, are spreading the Gospel in the “most unreached areas of Asia,” the organization said.
According to official estimates, a little more than two percent of India's over 1 billion strong population is Christian. GFA and other groups have suggested that this number is expected to rise rapidly in the near future.