PASTOR Khanna spent 40 days in a jail in Jammu & Kashmir last November for baptizing seven Muslims. While the new believers insisted they weren’t offered money to convert, this didn’t stop local media from destroying Khanna’s reputation in the community.
“You would hang your head in shame at what was written about [the pastor’s] family,” said a Voice of the Martyrs, USA partner.
The ordeal took a serious toll on Khanna’s family and the church’s view of his leadership. His wife became sick, as well as deeply disappointed by the church’s lack of support. Meanwhile, church leaders hinted that Khanna shouldn’t have baptized the converts from Islam.
Although his case was eventually dropped because of a lack of evidence, Khanna was dismissed from church leadership without pension.
But VOM has given the pastor new dignity. When lawyers in Kashmir refused to represent Khanna during his ordeal, VOM’s partner in India helped him out. They recently came to the rescue again by offering the former pastor a job in Bangalore.
Pastor Khanna now speaks on behalf of persecuted Christians in churches throughout India. The move has improved both Khanna’s confidence and his wife’s health. Pray that her health continues to improve.
“I am not bothered by what happened to me, but I glorify the Lord,” declared Pastor Khanna.
While Hinduism is India’s majority religion, India has the world’s third-largest Muslim community. Most people in Kashmir are Muslim. They surround churches during worship services and circulate hate literature with a racial undertone against Christians. Pig blood is highly offensive to Muslims, and the Kashmir media portrays believers as people who use it in their religious practices.
Pastor Khanna held many community-wide events in Kashmir, trying to reconcile Muslims and Christians. The controversial baptism that triggered Pastor Khanna’s arrest was recorded at one of these events, and the video was later posted to YouTube.