An Indian missionary sponsored by the organization Gospel for Asia was recently released from prison after fighting a false charge behind bars for the past eight years.
The missionary, who is only being identified as Pastor Samuel, was first arrested in 2004 in Jhharkhand, India for allegedly participating in a riot that left 19 dead. Although he told officials that he had no part in the riots, he was incarcerated nonetheless as he had been misidentified as a Naxalite rebel.
Hearings for Pastor Samuel were delayed, and he was forced to be separated from his wife and daughter during the eight-year period.
While in prison, Pastor Samuel shared the Gospel with this cellmates, and was eventually given permission to conduct prayer services while incarcerated. He states that approximately 20 people came to Christ behind bars.
In August 2010, a court ruled that the charge against Pastor Samuel should be dropped as there was insufficient evidence to convict him. However, one final hearing had to take place, which was again delayed.
Almost three years later, Pastor Samuel is now free.
“I was totally depressed in this situation, but the Lord helped me to realize he has a special plan for me to be in the prison,” he stated. “The Lord is helping me to share the love of Jesus with the prisoners. Through my ministry, I see the transformation that is happening in their lives.”
Gospel for Asia (GFA) founder and president K.P. Yohannan said that he was relieved to hear the good news.
“I was thrilled to receive the phone call informing us that our Pastor Samuel was released from prison,” he stated. “Jesus told us we should not be surprised of such persecution when we follow him. Yet I am so relieved to know our prayers have been answered. Our brother has remained faithful to his calling and now is free again.”
“What the enemy intended for evil, the Lord has used for good,” he added. “Because Brother Samuel remained faithful in spite of persecution, many in prison who would have never known of his love are now joyfully worshipping the name of Jesus.”
India is listed as #31 on Open Doors’ World Watch List of the top 50 most dangerous places in the world to live as a Christian.
“Religious militants are one of the most prominent attackers of the Christian minority, claiming that every Indian has to be Hindu,” the organization explains on its World Watch website. “‘Anti-conversion laws’ have been adopted in several states and are frequently used as a pretext to disrupt church services and to harass and accuse Christians.”
“Permission to build or renovate a church building is almost impossible and church activities can be perceived as ‘hurting religious feelings’ and ‘disturbing peace and order,’” it continued. “The caste system, which is deeply rooted in society, makes outreach extremely difficult.”