Persecuted Pastor Counts the Cost of Ministry Among India’s Unreached
By ICC’s India Correspondent
12/06/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – “All of the sudden, my life, family, and church were broken into pieces,” Pastor Tukaram Chavan, age 32, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “It was hard to take. I was not expecting that something of this sort would take place. However, I remember the commitment I made to God when I came to full-time ministry. I counted the costs of serving the Lord and know that He will lead me through these challenges.”
On November 3, a mob of more than 200 radical Hindu nationalists attacked Pastor Tukaram’s independent church in the district of Bagalkot, located in India’s Karnataka State. As a result, Pastor Tukaram was hospitalized with serious injuries to his eyes. Now that he is out of the hospital, Pastor Tukaram is still trying to put together the pieces of his life and ministry.
Recalling the November attack, Pastor Tukaram said, “An aggressive crowd of nearly 15 radicals climbed up the stairs to the second floor where more than 100 Christians were worshipping. They broke into the worship hall and without a word they started to beat everyone in the congregation.”
“The radicals then dragged me down the stairs where a large crowd of over 200 were waiting for me,” Pastor Tukaram continued. “Again, I was beaten brutally.”
Police soon arrived on the scene and took Pastor Tukaram and several other Christians into custody. The Christians were taken to the police station and denied necessary medical treatment.
Pastor Tukaram is one of four church planters actively ministering to one of India’s most unreached people groups called the Lambadi. The Lambadi people live in 25 remote villages located in the district of Bagalkot.
Reflecting on his ministry, Pastor Tukaram said, “One of the reasons for me to commit to full-time ministry was the Lambadi people were among the most unreached. When I began my ministry, God started giving fruits to the ministry. Today, more than 25 families are part of the church I planted 10 years ago.”
While his ministry has been successful, Pastor Tukaram has also faced many challenges over the years.
“First, they banned me from entering the villages,” Pastor Tukaram explained. “But the Christians of those villages did not lose heart. Instead, they started to come out of the villages to attend Sunday worship in a different town. When banning me did not work, the radicals forcibly conducted ‘reconversion’ programs in the villages. They threatened faithful Christians with severe consequences if they did not convert back to the Hindu faith.”
“There are times that I do get [discouraged] and disheartened,” Pastor Tukaram told ICC. “For example, as things are now, I had to shift my house, close down the church, and shift the school for my children.”
“However, I know that His grace is sufficient for me,” Pastor Tukaram explained. “I have endured persecution ever since I came to ministry 10 years ago. The persecution has intensified, but I am doing my best with God’s grace to pull everything together.”
Currently, Pastor Tukaram is looking for a way to reopen the church that was attacked and shut down on November 3. While this will certainly be a challenge, Pastor Tukaram’s steadfast faith and commitment to ministry will continue to be his greatest assets in his mission to bring Jesus to the Lambadi people.