Though fearful, Pastor in Madhya Pradesh finds courage in Word of God

(Photo: Unsplash/Rohit Raj)

A pastor from the border territory of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh was arrested by the authorities on suspicion of performing forced conversions in the region. 

On November 26, Pastor Gokhariya Solanki and a few churchgoers were worshipping in Aradhana Bhavan in the village of Garbedi in the Burhanpur district when about a dozen men from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) stormed into the worship hall and disrupted them. 

They alleged that Pastor Solanki carried out forceful conversions and called the police. 

Authorities from Nimbola police station arrived at the spot and detained Pastor Solanki. He was taken to the police station in the afternoon, where he was questioned. 

“They were fully prepared to charge me under various stringent sections and put me behind bars, but then they received a phone call from an area political leader who questioned them about my arrest and the police had to let me go,” said Solanki while narrating to Christian Today. 

Approximately ten years ago, the thirty-nine-year-old Solanki left his hometown, which is located approximately 80 kilometres away, to establish a fellowship in Garbedi village. He built the worship centre two years ago, and ever since then, he has gathered there for worship and fellowship. 

“God told me that I needed to build a church and start serving people in Burhanpur. Hence, I came here in 2014 and settled here and started the worship service,” said Solanki.

Around 50 people attend his church every week, according to Solanki. 

Pastor Solanki was kept in the police station for around 3-hours and statements were recorded from the congregation members who spoke in favour of the pastor. They explicitly stated that they were neither forced nor offered allurement to follow Christ, said the sources. 

Sam Kumar, the head of the ministry Solanki is associated with, came to visit him from Tamil Nadu. Reacting to the harassment Solanki faced, Kumar told Christian Today “If in the future they (RSS people) again harass our people, we will go to court and take necessary action.” 

Solanki, who lives with his wife and two children – daughter (20) and son (18) said that he faced such opposition for the first time in 10-years in the district.

Before moving to Burhanpur, he was imprisoned twice for two days in Madhya Pradesh and eight days in Maharashtra on accusations identical to those made by Hindu fanatics. 

Even though Solanki is terrified of the unexpected assault and his imprisonment, he claimed that this Bible scripture offered him courage and consolation during his interrogation:

“On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:9-11).

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