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07/21/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Humming machines knit together bro­ken pieces of fabric, the machine pedals pumping rapidly. Coimbatore, a city in southern India, is known as the tex­tile capital. Outside these factories, peo­ple hustle through the streets where they pass temples, food stalls, and market venues. But travel just a few short kilometers north of the city, and the atmosphere becomes markedly tense at the site of a church.

For 16 months, this church was locked and sealed. Just days before Christmas 2017, Hindu radicals gathered together and attacked the church.

The attack was swift and violent. Fifteen Hindu radicals rushed into the church hall, which was prepped with Christmas gifts and food for a fellowship meal. They “stormed into the hall, and started to beat us,” recalled Pastor Karthik.

“As I was leading the worship, standing at the pulpit, some people rushed towards me and hit me with the chair on my head. I didn’t even realize that the blood was running through my shoulder,” he continued.

Dazed, the pastor hardly remembers what happened next. The assailants injured more than a half dozen congregants and prevented them from traveling to the hospital. They were later taken to the police station, where they were informed that they could not hold prayers in the church until they obtained the necessary permissions.

Local authorities wasted no time in clos­ing the church. This combination of events would have significant consequences for all 50 Christians who once practiced their faith in this building.

“All our plans of a joyful Christmas cel­ebration were ruined and shattered,” said Pastor Karthik.

With the church now closed, everything changed. “We couldn’t have a worship service for nearly one and a half years, as we were told not to assemble for any kind of religious gath­erings, and the church doors were locked,” he further explained.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming tomorrow.

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