1,000-Strong North Indian Mob Destroys Church, Beats Pastor

A mob of close to 1,000 people in a village in North India attacked the construction site of a new church, beating the pastor and other believers in the process, and told Christians to stay out.

"I could see the power of Satan working through them when they were lifting the iron web because it was very heavy," a man identified as "Pastor Tanvir" said in a news release posted by Gospel for Asia on Thursday.

The attack reportedly occurred on Sunday, and targeted a church which was being built after a two year delay due to hostility Christians in the area faced.

Gospel for Asia, which says that its mission is "to be devout followers of Christ and to fulfill the Great Commission among the unreached in Asia through training, sending out and assisting qualified laborers in partnership with the Body of Christ," reported that rumors about Christians engaging in "culturally offensive actions" might have provoked the mob.

"We don't want this building in our colony," the crowd had apparently said while attacking the church, along with Pastor Tanvir and other Christians.

India's population is predominantly Hindu, with Christians making up only 2.3 percent of the population, according to the CIA World Factbook. There have been strong tensions between the two communities, with Hindus rejecting what they see as attempts of conversion by missionaries.

Earlier in August, the mother of a Pentecostal pastor in Jaipur, India was beaten and seriously injured by Hindu radicals who told her she must convert to Hinduism or be killed.

"If you do not convert to Hinduism we will kill you and cut you in pieces," a group of four ultra-nationalist Hindus told the elderly Christian woman. They were looking for her son, the Rev. Vishaal Behl, a Pentecostal clergyman, and his wife.

In the North India village, Pastor Tanvir said that he tried to avoid a clash with the Hindu demonstrators, but they began climbing to the top of the church building. There, they lifted an iron grid from the roof, and threw it to the ground.

"After the anti-Christians destroyed the building, they proceeded to seize and beat up Pastor Tanvir and other believers who were present, including Pastor Tanvir's mother. By God's grace, the believers escaped, but they did not return to their homes the entire night as a safety precaution," the press release said.

"It is our desire that these who are persecuting will know the love of God for them," said K.P. Yohannan, GFA Founder and International Director.