An Indian pastor who was severely beaten alongside members of his congregation because of his faith has vowed to continue preaching the Gospel despite such persecution.
"Since I am working for the Lord, I have always prepared myself for any kind of eventuality, persecution, or danger. I am prepared to pay the price for serving my God," said Pastor Bangali Das in an interview with International Christian Concern while wrapped in bandages and breathing heavily due to injuries he sustained during the attack.
"Great men of God in the Bible like Shedrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and their friend Daniel were persecuted. So I feel that it's an occasion for me to glorify God, like them. I will continue to work for the Lord in spite of all such obstacles and pain," he added.
In addition to being accused of carrying out forceful conversions, the pastor of 12 years also faced issues with local police. In February, they evicted him from the premises that he rented for church services, due to noise complaints.
But Das refused to give up on ministering to people in the village of Tetua, explaining that he had to carry out services at an open place. As a result, many people in the local Manjhi caste "accepted Jesus and they offered me an open place to conduct worship."
As many as 150 non-Christian Manjhi attacked a worship service earlier in November, however, accusing the pastor of forcefully converting people, and demanding that he stop preaching.
"When our believers requested them to give some time to buy a place and build a worship hall, they surrounded us and started beating us," Das explained.
"Two men caught me and began to rain blows on me with their hands. I got hurt in my chest very badly and my arm was injured. They threw me on the ground and beat me until I became unconscious."
Also in November, a mob of Hindu extremists attempted to burn a pastor alive as he was taking his 18-month-old baby to the hospital for emergency treatment in Odisha state.
Pastor John Lakra revealed that hundreds of Hindu extremists surrounded his car, pulled him out, and began beating him, Morning Star News reports.
"They ripped off my clothes. Not a single part of my body was left unstruck," he revealed.
After throwing him onto the road and kicking him, they picked him up and forced him onto a motorcycle, he said. With hundreds following, they took him to a Durga idol and forced him to kneel before it even as they continued beating him, he said.
"Then they poured a gallon of petrol on me," he said. "Right there, I was praying in my heart. I said, 'Lord! I submit myself to you. May this bring Glory only to you.' While I was praying, I was so moved by the Holy Spirit. There was so much pain that I have not done enough, that I must share about my Lord's love to so many, my journey is not over yet. These words rumbled in my heart."
Hindus shouted that he should be given as a live sacrifice to the goddess, the pastor said.
"After they poured petrol on me, miraculously there was a blackout [power out]," Pastor Lakra said. "And within minutes, police reached the spot and rescued me."
According to persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, Christians in India face extreme persecution at the hands of Hindu radicals, and 24,000 Christians were attacked in India last year alone.
"Because Hindu radicals view Christians as outsiders, Christianity in India is in more danger than ever before," notes the outlet. "These radicals are intent on cleansing the nation of both Islam and Christianity and employ violence to this end. Usually, converts to Christianity experience the worst persecution and are constantly under pressure to return to Hinduism."
Because of this, the country is ranked #11 on Open Doors' World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.