India: January 29, 2007. Three Bible school students in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh were beaten on the morning of Saturday, January 27, and their Bible school vandalized by a group of Hindu extremists who oppose the growth of Christianity in their nation.
The students had divided into groups and were witnessing in nearby villages when they were confronted and beaten by members of an extremist group. The group then took the students to the police station.
Shortly after the attack, a mob of about 60 members of this same group came to the home Bible school and vandalized the facility.
"They caused a lot of damage," reported a field correspondent, "breaking the windows and shelves and tearing apart the books before they left."
The extremist group is a branch of the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or "World Hindu Council"), an organization dedicated to promoting an ultra-nationalistic philosophy that "to be Indian is to be Hindu." Groups such as these often oppose Christian work with violence.
Local police responded to the attack, locking up the Bible school and taking everyone---staff, students and a women`s ministry team---into custody.
"It was first thought that the police were against us," said the correspondent.
"But then we came to know that the police took them in order to protect them."
By Saturday evening, police released the group and posted four officers to guard the Bible school overnight.
"It is not sure whether or not the fanatics will return," our correspondent stated.
Gospel for Asia currently trains thousands of students in Bible colleges throughout Asia. First-year students typically attend home Bible schools, which offer a more personal mentoring environment, and which then feed into the larger Bible colleges for the students` final two years of missionary training.
Gospel for Asia leaders are asking Christians to pray for this situation to be resolved, for the safety of everyone involved and for continued freedom to preach the Gospel in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Himachal Pradesh recently became the eighth state in India to pass anti-conversion legislation. If the bill is signed into law by the governor, it would impose fines and prison time on both those who embrace Christianity and those who introduce them to Christ.