They Cry in Silence Nov/Dec 2004
We often report in this space statistics related to Christian persecution. We’ve publicized the horror of the genocide being committed by Muslim radicals in Darfur, Sudan, which is so massive it defies adequate description. Usually, most of the attacks against believers are the work of Islamists obsessed with annihilating Christians in countries Muslims claim as their own.
However, Muslim areas are not the only places where believers are suffering at the hands of militants who use violence to crush a witness for the gospel.
A recent report from India bears this out. According to an incident reported by Compass Direct, an Indian pastor was brutally attacked and barely escaped with his life.
Letthang Gangte, a missionary serving with the Evangelical Congregational Church of India, had ministered in the village of Rajghat since 1995. At about 3 A.M. on April 19, during a heavy downpour, a group of militant Hindus armed with knives and spears broke into the Gangtes’ mud hut and viciously slashed the pastor, his wife, and their two young children.
Compass Direct said the pastor, beaten and stabbed repeatedly, suffered deep head and back wounds, as well as a deep stab wound in his stomach. Despite his injuries, Letthang attempted to protect his family. But there was little he could do. His wife sustained serious wounds to her head and one arm. Even daughter Bebem, 7, and son Bawilun, 10, were slashed on their lower bodies.
When the attack was reported to local police, the family was informed there was nothing that could be done until they could provide the identities of their attackers. The police were unwilling to do any credible investigation of their own.
A month later, the wife of another pastor was kidnapped by Hindu extremists in Gujarat, India. At this writing, she is still in captivity. Again the police have refused to act, even though eyewitnesses identified the abductors.
It seems incongruous that Hindus, who profess to revere all things living, have launched killing sprees. They profess to believe that people are free to choose their form of worship because all paths, they assert, ultimately lead to God. Evidently, this reverence for life and freedom of worship does not extend to Christians.
Pastor Gangte worked among animist tribal people, and his commitment to reach them with the gospel message has not been diminished. He told Compass Direct he will not leave his field of service, “even if it means the end of life for myself and my family.”
Compass Direct said the Gangtes’ sending church is preparing plans for a brick dwelling to replace the family mud hut in hopes it will provide better protection. The attackers broke into the hut by hacking through the rain-soaked mud walls.
The courage of this man and his family should inspire everyone committed to serving Christ. The fact that they will return despite the danger shows their deep-seated love for the souls of the lost. Such conviction rings with the spirit of the early saints.
Most of us do not face the perils endured by the Gangtes and other faithful servants of Christ living in difficult places. But knowing their situation, we have a sacred obligation to pray and actively support, in any ways available, these who have so little but are willing to give so much.
On another front, the killing in Darfur, Sudan, continues. While the Sudanese government makes every attempt to convince the international community that things aren’t as bad as they seem, nothing has changed.
Since February of 2003, Sudanese government forces and Arab militias known internationally as the Jana weed have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of ethnic cleansing.
Despite Sudan’s public denials of links with these rampaging militias, hundreds of eyewitness testimonies highlight the Sudanese government’s policy of aiding and supporting these killers.
Predictably, the secular news media has been virtually silent about the issue. Belatedly, they have begun to report the immensity of the slaughter. The United Nations now estimates that at least 30,000 to 50,000 people have died, and approximately 200,000 have fled to neighboring Chad, an impoverished nation hardly able to substantially aid these refugees.
But what of the people forced to remain in Darfur? An estimated 1.2 million remain to face the consequences of the killing squads.
As late as July, innocent civilians have been attacked and killed in joint government and Janaweed militia raids. The attackers loot marketplaces, deliberately killing civilians and, in some cases, chaining victims to trees and burning them alive.
Stories abound of sexual violence against women and girls taking place daily in the horror that is Darfur. In addition to raiding camel, cattle, and other livestock, the Janaweed and government forces seize young women as “rewards” for their atrocities.
The same tactic was common when the Sudanese government moved against the black Nuba Christians in southern Sudan. Entire villages were burned, and pastors were slain and, in some cases, crucified. Young girls were sold into slavery, while others were stuffed into refugee camps where survival was conditioned on one factor: conversion to Islam. Convert and receive food; refuse to renounce your faith and starve. For many believers, starvation has been the only choice.
And what is the goal of an Islamic government professedly committed to love and peace? The establishment of a pure Islamic state—a pure Islamic society. And in the world of fundamental Islam, Christians, and even Muslims who do not agree with this vision of Islamic utopia, are considered unworthy to survive.
How does this philosophy differ from Adolf Hitler’s fantasy of a thousand-year Reich and pure Aryan race? It doesn’t. Yet such evil will continue as long as civilized people stand aside and allow it.