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ICC Note:

The widow of a murdered pastor in India’s Jharkhand State has continued her late husband’s ministry despite continued persecution. Sonawati Dhan’s continued example of love and care for the community that surrounds her stands as a testament to both her and her husband’s commitment to their faith and their love for their neighbors. Attacks on Christians and their places of worship have continued to escalate in both number and intensity in India. Pastors and evangelists often present obvious targets to Hindu radicals as they are the leaders of their communities.  

10/20/2017 India (UCAN) – It is two years since tribal villagers and Indian Hindu fanatics barged into Pastor Chamu Hasda Purty’s home late at night and shot him dead in front his wife and four children.

They left with a warning: give up Christianity or be killed.

But the pastor’s widow, Sonawati Dhan, continues to be a Christian and conducts weekly prayer meetings in their Sandigaon village in India’s eastern Jharkhand state.

“We are not afraid of death, we are ready to die for Christ as our father did,” asserts 21-year-old daughter Neelam Purty, a graduate student who still joins her mother’s prayer meetings.

Daughter Angel Purtys, 19, said many people who had earlier attended the prayer meetings stopped doing so following the murder.

Her mother, Dhan, said the family moved 22 kilometers soon after the killing on Oct. 12, 2015.

“We were under pressure from our close relations, who feared for our lives,” she said.

The two daughters study at university while the young sons are in school.

“We will move back to the village after completion of their studies,” said Dhan who comes to the village’s primary school every workday, as she is employed as a teacher there, as well as to conduct the Sunday prayer meetings.

Dhan said she did not get any support from their tribal Munda community who dominate the village population.

“That is because most people were opposed to our new faith,” she told ucanews.com.

“They believed the new faith is against traditional customs and practices of the indigenous community.”

Even the late pastor’s parents and relations were opposed when he began the prayer service in their house in 2010.

“When more people began to join our prayer services, the villagers’ opposition also increased,” Dhan said.

“They wanted us to stop it, but we did not.”

The village committee then ordered a boycott against the family and denied them water from a common well.

It also fined anyone who spoke to the family 1,000 rupees (US$15), she recalled.

Hindu nationalists joined the villagers and killed the pastor, Dhan said, as it helped their agenda to banish Christianity from the state.

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