Several months ago I met a man who had been beaten almost to death. It’s a sobering, but inspiring story.
At the time, 31-year-old Pastor T.L. Angam Haokip was running an orphanage and Bible college in Kothanur, Bangalore, when he was attacked by about 35 men in the village of Geddalahalli, Bangalore.
T.L., who currently works with IBMC Ministries and is executive director/president at International Biblical Missionary Church ministries, had been driving his jeep when a gang of Hindu fanatics forced him to stop and asked if he was a pastor. When he affirmed he was, they savagely stripped him and beat him violently, breaking his neck, almost tearing off his toes, and severely injuring his legs, back and chest. They left the cut up missionary for dead; somehow he survived.
As T.L. began the slow recovery process in the hospital, he felt nothing but pure hatred toward his attackers and vowed revenge. But a spiritual encounter with a mysterious figure who he describes as “the angel of God” changed all that. He began to genuinely forgive the men who had nearly killed him.
“There is no way we can stop the sharing of the Gospel because you know … you see that something big, someone who is … seeing a gold or diamonds can never sit quietly because they definitely say, ‘I found the diamonds!’” explained T.L. to One We Stand about why he can never stop preaching even after nearly being killed. “So when a person knows Jesus in person, [I think] no way … that a person can be quiet.”
T.L. case took years to come to court because the perpetrators had friends in high places and police initially refused to cooperate, even going as far as blaming T.L. for negligent driving. But when the case finally made it before the judge, T.L. was asked what he wanted to do with these men who’d tried to kill him.
He replied, “Sir, I want to forgive them.” At that, the judge became angry and pointed out to T.L. that “compromising” with the perpetrators might be more appropriate language in a court of law.
T.L. describes an extraordinary sense of peace and relief as he expressed “wanting to show them that there is forgiveness in Christ.”
As they left the court, T.L. hugged all the perpetrators and gave them each one of the Bibles he’d been distributing when they attacked him. Then he told them that when they’d beaten him, he had been single, but now he was married and that he and his wife would like to invite them all to their home for dinner.
They have yet to accept his invitation.
Though this nearly fatal attack of a Christian pastor happened in 2007, violent incidents like this are still occurring in India and other countries in 2017.
India is ranked No. 15 on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries that are the worst persecutors of Christians, with Saudi Arabia only one spot above it at No. 14. The source of persecution is religious nationalism, which has become worse since May 2014 when India became governed by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) administration.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan U.S. government body, stated in its 2017 Annual Report that “in 2016, religious tolerance and religious freedom conditions continue to deteriorate in India.” Like Open Doors, USCIRF also blamed Hindu nationalist groups – specifically the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Sangh Parivar, and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), which have ties to the ruling party. The commission also pointed out that India has a long history of existing problems of police and judicial bias against religious minorities.
Pastor T.K. Angam Haokip was born in a small rural village in northeast India named Changlei, which did not have a hospital nor a school. His father was the high priest of Animism Worship and was 75 when he was born. When his father died he was taken to the Carmel Orphanage Home in Assam where he grew up. He has ministered in Burma (Myanmar) where he was arrested by the Burmese militants and jailed. T.L. founded the Missionary Children Home in June 2003 to help orphans and underprivileged kids with basic necessities and train them with self-discipline