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11/27/2018 India (International Christian Concern) – On October 23, Pastor John Lakra and his family were driving to a hospital in Sundargarh, Odisha to seek emergency treatment for their 18-month-old baby. While on the road, they were confronted by a mob of extremists.

The mob surrounded the car, hurled stones, and began hitting the windows with rods as they shouted curses. According to Morning Star News, Pastor Lakra became the target of the attack after a hacker sent a text message and photo from the pastor’s mobile phone insulting the Hindu goddess Durga.

They pulled me out of the car, slapped and beat me black and blue,” Pastor Lakra reported to Morning Star News. “They ripped off my clothes. Not a single part of my body was left unstruck.

After beating the pastor, the mob took him to a local Durga idol and forced him to kneel before it. The mob then poured a gallon of petrol over the pastor as they shouted that he should become a live sacrifice to the goddess. Fortunately, police were able to intervene and stopped the mob from burning the pastor alive.

Attacks on Christians and their places of worship in India continue to rise in both number and severity. In 2014, Christians reported 144 cases of religiously motivated violence to the Evangelical Fellowship of India. In 2017, Christians reported the number of cases had more than doubled to 351 cases of religiously motivated violence.

For interviews with William Stark, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: