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08/15/2019 India (International Christian Concern) – On Monday, August 12, a small church made of wooden poles and thatch was set on fire and completely destroyed by unknown people in Thakkallepadu village, approximately 80 miles southeast of Hyderabad, India. Local Christians report that the apparent arson has left their community completely shattered.

According to Pastor Samuel, head pastor of Gethsemane Prardana Mandiram, the small building was built a year ago to house the community’s worship services. The small church was built on land owned by Pastor Samuel.

I was so shocked to find the church totally burned,” Pastor Samuel told International Christian Concern (ICC). “It was the hard earned money of church member that were used to build the shed. All of the sudden, everything is gone.

We don’t know who committed this malicious act,” Pastor Samuel continued. “However, in May of this year, Hindu radicals attacked church members in the village when they were putting up posters about public Gospel meetings. The radicals snatched the posters and destroyed them.

We strongly suspect that the burning of the church is the work of those who attacked in May,” Pastor Samuel concluded.

The burning of Gethsemane Prardana Mandiram is the second reported incident of persecution in the area in the last three weeks. On July 22, an outreach team from Hebron Fellowship Church was attacked in Huzurnagar town. In that incident, radical Hindu nationalists forcibly applied bindis, red dots traditionally worn by Hindus, on the foreheads of the Christians in the presence of the police. They also stole Christian literature, including News Testaments, and destroyed them.

Both incidents have been reported to local police, but not much has been done to deliver justice to the Christian victims. As radical Hindu nationalism continues to spread across India, it is unlikely the Christians of Gethsemane Prardana Mandiram or Hebron Fellowship Church will receive justice from local authorities.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].