By BosNewsLife Asia Service
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- An Indian pastor and his pregnant wife are reportedly recovering after they were attacked by Hindu militants for refusing to praise a Hindu god.
Pastor Dinbanhu Sameli, 30, and his wife Meena, 26, also witnessed how their church was set ablaze by angry Hindus in the troubled Bastar district of the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, according to Christians familiar with the case.
Rights group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) said two young men approached the pastor on April 17 outside his home next to the church.
"Initially the men asked for prayer, claiming they were from a nearby Methodist church. But they later brought out a sword which they held to the pastor's neck, demanding that the couple shout out the phrase, 'Jai Shri Ram', meaning 'Victory to the god Ram'," explained the group, which closely followed the case.
"Where is your Jesus?" the two assailants allegedly demanded. Pastor Dinbanhu reportedly replied: "We believe that He is with us." When asked, "Why don't you believe in Ram?" the husband and wife remained silent.
"After the couple refused to comply with demands to praise Ram and stomp on a Bible, the two men took a litre of petrol and set fire to the church building, also destroying the congregation's musical instruments," added VOMC.
"When the sword was placed on Pastor Dinbanhu's shoulder, he admittedly felt fear in his heart but prayed that God would save them."
As the church burned, the couple fled and filed a report with police, activists said.
The incident took place in the remote village of Karanji, located within the Tokapal area of the sprawling Bastar district. Christians say there have been several incidents of anti-Christian violence at the hands of "Hindu fundamentalists".
The attack against the pastor and his 7-months pregnant wife was the latest in a series of anti-Christian incidents in India.
Just days earlier in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Hindu extremists reportedly tortured a 30-year-old convert from Hinduism, Joginder Gold. They took him to a farm house in the Tewardih area of Varanasi city on April 9 and demanded he stops worshipping Christ, Christians said.
Gold reportedly told police that Jesus Christ healed his sister from an illness eight years ago, and that after seeing the "love and healing touch of Christ", his family put their trust in Him and chose to follow Him.
Elsewhere on the same day in Saidpur Garur in Jaunpur, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Varanasi, Hindu extremists severely beat a 57-year-old pastor, Christians said.
In an apparently pre-planned attack, three Hindu militants on motorcycles came to the Indian Pentecostal Church, asking for pastor Samuel Marikuda Joseph, who was overseeing construction of a new church building at the time.
They later beat him, using sticks, his family said. No arrests were reported. Minority Christians are increasingly under pressure in heavily Hindu India, especially devoted believers, activists say.