When I was a guest in his home, all those years ago, I had no idea he’d one day die a violent death for refusing to renounce Christ.
It’s an anniversary few know, and fewer remember; but I will mark it by sharing his story. This story ought to be told, especially to the “civilized West” since the world is becoming — once again — a dangerous place to follow Jesus Christ.
Five years ago, there was a violent uprising against Christians. Organized mobs went through villages burning and killing. Before it was over, tens of thousands of local Christians were displaced — hiding in the jungles, or living in refugee camps. Violence awaited anyone who dared return without renouncing Christ.
Seventeen years ago, I was Pastor Samuel’s guest. He was an itinerant preacher, and ran — if memory serves — both an orphanage and a school. He began a Bible school, as well. He travelled the region — often on foot, bicycle or public bus, and visited other nearby villages, bringing the gospel with him. With two other Canadians, I spent 2 months in his village, assisting him as required. They were very kind and gracious to us.
We went to remote places in the mountains and met people where the name of Jesus had never been spoken before. Those are memories each of us will treasure forever.
I’ll let his widow tell the story of what happened in her own words. This interview was only a few months after the attack, while still living in the refugee camp.
Around 8:00 a.m., an armed mob of 500 Hinduvta extremists came to Bakingia village: they stormed the church, desecrated the church, looted valuables and burned it down. I told my husband to flee into the forest, but he refused, as his aged mother Janamati Nayak (75 years) was staying with us.
The extremists, who were also carrying inflammables like gasoline and kerosene, came to our house, shouting Hindu chants. They dragged my husband outside and thrashed him severely, some of the men placed a knife and this [sic] throat and demanded that Samuel renounce Christ, which he refused to do. This angered the extremists, who then poured kerosene on my mother in-law and set her aflame. As she was burning, they repeated their demand to renounce Christ. One of them had tied me up with a knife to my throat also, but Samuel refused to embrace Hinduism. The extremists began slashing him on his neck, back and heels, they also slashed me on my stomach reaching up to my back. For the third time, they asked him to denounce Jesus, and in spite of the heavy bleeding and being in great pain, in a gasping low tone he said: “For 25 years, I have been in the Gospel ministry, I have walked all over Orissa telling people that Jesus loves and Jesus saves, I will never abandon my Jesus.” This angered the extremists, who then slashed his throat, and shouted, “Now let us see how your Jesus will save you.”