Story India | 06 May 2024

'This is God's work': How Laxman from India shows courage in the midst of violence


Show: true / Country: India / India
When Latika* got sick, her husband Laxman* did everything he could think of to find healing for her. He talked to multiple doctors—but none could find an answer. A devout Hindu, Laxman took her to Hindu priests and temples and to various occultist healers. 

But nothing worked. Latika grew worse, and Laxman was afraid he’d lose his wife. 

Finally, at his wits’ end, he did something he never thought he would: He took Latika to a church. His wife was a Christian, but Laxman wanted nothing to do with Jesus. 

What happened at the church would forever change Laxman's life.

The people at the church prayed over Latika. She and Laxman returned home—and she began improving. “When my wife received healing with just one prayer at the church, I understood that her God was a God who answered prayers,” Laxman recalls. “As I began to understand the power of this God, I was determined to spread His message of truth to as many people as possible and bring more people to Him.” 

And so, Laxman began a life of dedication to God—a decision that has cost him dearly, but also has fueled a life filled with miracles, hope and a constant anchor of faith. 

Another miracle

In the Indian state where Laxman and Latika live, pressure and violence against Christians run high. The state government is led by a Hindu nationalist party, which empowers people who oppose minority religions, including Christianity. The state also has an anti-conversion law, meant to prevent people from leaving one faith for another. Hundreds of Christian churches have been closed, and pastors are regularly accused of coercing people to convert, which can result in arrest and even imprisonment. 
But even with the knowledge that following Jesus could be risky and even dangerous, Laxman knew he needed to follow the one true God. And so, after Latika’s healing, he pursued a two-year theology training and then started a church.   

“We started with three people, and as the people increased, God showed me a place where we were to build a church. So we built the church,” Laxman says.  

Laxman’s faith in Christ had come because he saw Jesus was a healer. And the Lord blessed Laxman’s ministry to heal others. In one example, he met a man who suffered from epilepsy. Laxman prayed for him, and gradually the man’s epileptic attacks decreased. This healing encouraged the man’s family so much that they dedicated their lives to the Lord. Soon, even more people received complete God’s healing from their sicknesses—physical, psychological and spiritual. 
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“There were also people addicted to alcohol and tobacco,” Laxman remembers. “They started coming to our fellowship and gradually got delivered from their addictions. They testified, ‘We stopped smoking and drinking, God has changed our lives.’”

God continued to bless the ministry, and Laxman’s church grew. He and Latika also felt blessed in their personal lives—they were pregnant! The young couple was thrilled. But as the delivery date drew near, pregnancy complications began. Latika noticed she could not feel any movements from the baby in her womb.  

“I immediately took my wife to the hospital,” Laxman recalls. Even now, years later, his voice carries the fear of those moments. “The doctor carried out some tests and confirmed that the baby had died inside the womb two days before.” 

Laxman did the only thing he knew to do: pray. “I started praying: ‘Lord I am doing Your ministry with honesty and truth, please help me now,’” he prayed. “My entire family had already started weeping and grieving for the lost baby. The doctor called to tell me that my wife had to be operated on soon, or else we could lose her too.” 

As Laxman gave permission to operate, he continued to lift up Latika and their unborn child before God—and then something incredible happened. “I did not lose heart and I continued to pray,” he says. “What I witnessed was another miracle:  The doctors helped my wife deliver a healthy baby girl.” 

The family began rejoicing—but their happiness was short-lived. The baby had been born with a genetic abnormality. Once again, the family turned to the Lord. 

“Everyone suggested that we should go for surgical intervention, but Latika decided that we would wait on the Lord for His healing,” Laxman says. “We continued to pray every day. And after a few days,as Latika was praying, she felt the voice of the Lord asking her to go check upon the baby. 

“She went and discovered that our baby had been healed! The Lord had intervened miraculously, and this led to further strengthening our faith in Him.” 

After this miracle, the faith of Laxman's entire family and church members increased, and the number of people attending the church increased from only a few to hundreds. 

But the visible growth did not go unnoticed by those in the community who oppose the spread of Christianity.

Greater persecution and a fake ‘confession’

In the area where Laxman lives, a number of groups of Hindu extremists view Christianity is a "foreign religion." They believe Indians ought to be Hindus—so any Hindu who converts to Christianity is treated with contempt and will be persecuted by these groups. When Laxman’s church began to grow—and his congregation included former Hindus who had stopped going to temples or participating in Hindu rituals—the extremists in the area were enraged. They began watching Laxman. 

“I will build a church on this land.”

Laxman to police
“The extremists made a police complaint against me, accusing me of luring people to Christianity using money,”  Laxman says. Under the state’s anti-conversion law, this kind of coercion is illegal and is a punishable offense. Under these regulations, many pastors have been wrongly accused and imprisoned for several years. 

So Laxman knew the charges could be serious. “I was called to police station where I was told that if I continue my ministry, I would be buried alive [on my land],” he says. 

Despite the deadly threat, Laxman was resolute in his response: “I will build a church on this land,” he said.  

Fortunately, the police eventually had to release him due to lack of evidence. 

But that wasn’t the end of the trials for Laxman and his church. “The extremists called a believer from my church to the police station,” Laxman says. “He was threatened [and told] that his house would be destroyed unless he signed a blank piece of paper.” 

The believer was terrified and agreed to the strange request. He signed the blank paper and was released. The extremists at the police station added a “confession” above the signature. “The confession said I had lured him to Christianity, promising him money,” Laxman says. 

The contrived "evidence" gave the police a reason to begin a more violent type of persecution. “The next day, while I was conducting a prayer service, the police came and stopped the service,” Laxman remembers. “They started beating me. They took me by the collar and hit me with their batons and slapped me. I thought the [other] villagers and believers would save me, but they did not. Then police shoved me and one more believer in their van and took us to the police station.”

Laxman was put in jail, where he was again beaten with wooden canes, kicked, abused and tortured mercilessly by the policemen. 

“They insulted and mocked me, saying I was conducting coercive conversions and tempting people to follow a foreign God,” Laxman says. “I asked the Lord, ‘What I will I do now?’” 

Laxman was devastated by the treatment. He still grows emotional as he talks about his arrest and being in jail. He wondered if it was the end of his ministry. He was devastated that no one from his community or congregation had come to help him. But by God’s grace, Laxman’s question got an immediate answer: “I felt I heard a soft, sweet voice [saying], ‘Do not be afraid, for I am with you,’” Laxman remembers. “I felt a rush of peace inside my heart, and I found courage and strength to go through all the pain and torture.” 

After six days in jail, Laxman was finally released on bail through the efforts of some of the believers from his church. He has lived under constant surveillance since then. And there was more devastation waiting for him. “When I returned from jail, I saw that my church building had been destroyed,” he says. “Extremists had attacked it the same day I was arrested.” 

Even in the face of threats and abuse, Laxman carried the courage the Lord gave him and continued to lead his congregation. They just have to do so secretly, knowing that following Jesus is enough to be violently attacked. 

“There are only 40 people now who gather secretly for prayers,” Laxman shares. “The other believers are staying away, fearing persecution. They do gather in smaller groups, though, as they are also monitored by the police.” 

Laxman and his fellow Christians are continuing to stand strong for Jesus, even though they know it could cost them dearly. And, through your gifts and prayers, you’re standing with them. 

‘This is God’s work’

When local Open Doors partners heard what had happened to Laxman, they came to his community to see what they could do to help.  “Open Doors partners, who I never knew before this incident, provided my family with groceries and helped us start a small farm," he shares. "They helped us when we were most discouraged; we had been so mentally traumatized that their presence revived us. Had they not been there, we would have been completely shattered and would have suffered in so many different ways.”

This is God’s work. No one can close it or shut it down.”

The small farm the couple started has met the family’s needs—giving Laxman the hope that eventually, the church will rebuild. Since Laxman’s church was destroyed completely by the extremists and they have to gather secretly in an individual believers’ house, Laxman can no longer depend on the tithes of his congregation to provide for him and his family. Sadly, this situation is common among pastors whose churches have been destroyed and are accused of forceful conversions. They are left without any income and struggle to make ends meet. Through your gifts and prayers, Open Doors partners are able to provide essentials like groceries or small business support, helping the pastor strengthen the church.   

Now, as he reflects on the tragedy of persecution and the ongoing mercy of God, Laxman is helped by a biblical figure known for suffering. “I am greatly inspired by Job, who feared the Lord all his days and still suffered so much, yet he was strong in his faith,” Laxman says.  

Laxman still suffers from back pain caused by the beatings he endured in jail. But he knows that no matter what, God’s work and the church will continue in India. “The church is closed, but my ministry continues,” he says. “This is God’s work. No one can close it or shut it down. It is for the Kingdom of the Lord.” 

*Name changed and representative photos used to protect identity

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