In one tsunami-ravaged area of Tamil Nadu, India, there stands a house — or what’s left of it. The doors are in splinters or off their hinges. The walls are broken down. The four single men living here suffered terrible injuries and a long, painful recovery process.
But monster waves didn’t wreck the home or cause harm to these Gospel workers.
Meshak, Biju, Padmanaban and Sam were one of many GFA relief teams that have worked in the devastated coastal areas of Tamil Nadu since the tsunami’s fury subsided. They rented a house in this community to use as their base of operation. Twelve Bible college students also joined them, gaining practical experience through the variety of outreach opportunities.
The team has distributed clothing, food, medicines and other basic essentials to any villager in need. And while ministering to the physical needs in each community, they have not hesitated to distribute Gospel literature, pray for the sick, counsel the traumatized or share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Because this village was so resistant to the Gospel message — even following the devastation of the tsunami — Meshak and his team members knew there was a risk involved every time they witnessed of the living God. Still, they welcomed every opportunity to demonstrate the love of Jesus. They just didn’t expect the wave of violence that struck late one night.
A mob of more than 30 anti-Christians gathered around the house at about 11 p.m., armed with knives, hacksaw blades, bicycle chains, ropes, iron rods and lathis (large bamboo sticks). When they discovered that all three outside doors were locked, the gang began pounding and shouting, “Open the door or we will kill you!”
One of Meshak’s first thoughts was for the 12 young students, who had probably never been confronted with such danger before. He could see they were all terribly frightened.
“There is no need to fear,” he encouraged them. “We will face them.”
The relentless pounding on the house continued, and the team members heard cracking and splintering as the wooden doors and walls began to give way. But there was another exit that the mob hadn’t discovered.
“There was another way through the garden,” Meshak remembers. “We helped all the students escape, and we four stayed inside.” Their choice to remain and provide cover for the students was a painful one.
When the walls and doors finally fell, the crowd rushed at the four men. For the next 10 minutes, Meshak and his team members suffered beatings and torture.
“They put a rope around my neck,” he recalls, “and they tightened it. They beat me many times with iron rods and with the bamboo sticks.”
But even as such hostility and rage filled the battered house, an entirely different event was taking place in each team member’s heart. Each missionary stood silently, enduring his attackers — and praying for them. Meshak remembers what he prayed: “Jesus, save them. Someday, please show them Your way. Show them Your love.”
Only when the gang members were exhausted from their efforts did the beatings cease. They forced the team members out of the house with all their belongings, but the missionaries’ hands were so swollen they were unable to carry their suitcases. Once out of the house, the team was beaten again, and this time all their Gospel literature was destroyed as well. Finally, after midnight, the mob left.
A sympathetic villager offered his support to help prosecute the attackers, but Meshak and his team had already resolved not to press charges. This proved to be another opportunity to witness of Jesus’ love.
“He was not able to grasp this grace,” Meshak reports. Before leaving for the hospital, the missionaries also paid the landlord for the damage caused to his house.
After being examined by doctors, the four missionaries were grateful to hear that they received no internal injuries. However, their pain was so great that they were unable to move from their beds for two days.
Six weeks later, the men are still suffering from bruises, swelling and recurrent pain. They have been forced to leave the village. But they have no vengeful thoughts toward their attackers, and their attitude is one of hope and victory. In fact, Meshak says they look forward to seeing fruit in the future:
“God is helping us do the work. There is an open way. And we hope that in the coming days there will be a church planted in the place where we were beaten.”
To read another story about Meshak, click here.