Samaru Madkami, a 7th grader who converted to Christianity in 2017 had been receiving threats ever since his conversion to Christianity. Along with him and his dad, Christians, in general, have been harassed by local villagers in India who are not believers.
In the night of June 4, 2020 in the east Indian village of Kenduguda in Odisha state, Hindu extremists and villagers came to Samaru's house with sticks and knives. They proceeded to stone Samaru to death and then burying his slain body before fleeing the scene.
Samaru's family and other believers in their village believe Samaru was murdered because of his conversion to Christianity and for his determination to share about his newly found passion and love for God.
Pastor Bijay shared about Samaru's passion for Christ in a statement, "He always shared from the Bible with youth and children from the village."
Samaru and his father were active at the Bethel House Church led by Pastor Bijay.
"If anything happens to my pastor, I will not fear. I will take charge of pastor's work and serve the Lord," Pastor Bijay recalled Samaru's words.
Similar to Samaru's death, another incident where Christians were murdered for their faith in Odisha state was back in 1999 when a father and his two sons were burned alive by a Hindu fundamentalist group.
65 million Christians living in India are persecuted for their love for Christ -- as India, the world's second-most populous country ranks as the 10th most dangerous country for Christians.
The pandemic doesn't seem to have helped the persecution either.
A local Open Doors partner shared about the Christian persecution situation in India, "We are receiving news of persecution incidents from many areas, even in this situation where people have been ordered to stay inside their home. In fact, we believe that during this phase of lockdown, Christians are suffering even more than before, since most of them have to now combat economic problems as well as the opposition and hatred from the community."
Prayers go out to believers who are standing strong in their faith in India.