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India: The Tested Faith of Widows

As Puspanjali walked home from church with her daughter, Monalisa, on 24 August 2008, she was unaware that her husband, Pastor Dibya Digal, was fleeing for his life. Dibya, who had just finished a worship service at his church in the Kandhamal district of Odisha state (then called Orissa), had taken shelter at a friend’s house after learning that a mob of Hindu extremists was approaching the church building.

The pastor remained at his friend’s house for two days, until one of his friend’s brothers — who was not a Christian — told the angry Hindus where he was hiding. About 200 men soon descended on the home, tied a handkerchief around Dibya’s neck and dragged him into a courtyard.

“You have to reject Christ because you come into this area only to convert people!” one of the men told the pastor. “You have to reject Jesus in front of us!”

“I cannot do that,” Dibya replied.

A member of the mob then struck the pastor in the mouth with an iron rod. “You cannot utter Jesus’ name anymore!” the man yelled. Another man then hit the pastor in the head with a large stone, killing him, before the mob dragged his body into a nearby creek.

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