The peace of Easter Sunday morning was marred by violence in the southern state of Karnataka, India, when 15 masked men stormed a Gospel for Asia church service, assaulting the pastor and his congregation.

The pastor received injuries to his head and fractures in his hands and shoulder, and his wife was severely beaten. The masked men entered the church building after the men in the congregation had left, leaving about 35 believers inside. The attackers took rods and repeatedly beat the women and children, leaving even the young children bloodied and bruised. The pastor was beaten on his forehead and shoulders with a bicycle chain, and blood covered his body as they dragged him out of the church. His wife began crying out to Jesus, which agitated the attackers. They poured engine oil over the pastor and his wife and searched for a match to set them on fire, but by God’s grace could not find one.

“These cowards waited till all the men left the venue and barged into the hall…they later locked the hall from inside and threatened the women and children with dire consequences,” a local pastor told reporters.

The attackers ransacked the church hall, threatening to harm the Christians if they continued their prayer meetings. They also damaged the pastor’s house and car.

“I am happy because I received these beatings because of the name of Jesus,” the pastor said while in the hospital.

Other attacks on Christians were reported across India on Easter Sunday, reportedly by radical Hindu groups. They were especially evident in Karnataka, where the government is dominated by an anti-Christian political party. This has made the fanatics even bolder in their open persecution of believers.

Please pray for the pastor while he is in ICU, that he will recover quickly from his injuries. Pray also that the church members who were beaten will be strong in their faith and bold in declaring it, and that the attackers will make Jesus their Savior as they see the forgiveness and love in those they persecuted.