The body of a pastor in southern India was found hanging in his home on January 20th, one week after a complaint had been filed about harassment from militant Hindu groups in his area. Gideon Periyaswamy, 43, was pastor of the Maknayeem Church in Adayachery village, Kanchipuram District. He was found in the early morning by two women coming to clean the building. Reports indicate that, while posed to look like a suicide, there are strong indications of murder, including a cut on his neck under the rope.
Initially the police would not open an investigation. However, after complaints from Pastor Gideon's family, the police are now promising a full and fair investigation. Protests throughout the state of Tamil Nadu are taking place in response to his death, demanding action against what is perceived to be the ongoing persecution of Christians.
Pastor Gideon had converted from Hinduism 25 years ago and led the church in Adayachery for more than 12 years. Local Hindu militants were unhappy about the church, opposing it because of its bold witness and outreach to lower caste people in the community. Despite the protests, Pastor Gideon had stated before his death: "I have no problems. If the Lord grants it to me, I will die a martyr for Christ; but His ministry will not end."
Please remember Pastor Gideon's family and the members of his church, as they mourn their sudden loss. Pray for the continued growth of Christianity in Adayachery and throughout India, as the country's persecuted believers rest in the assurance that Christ's church will indeed prevail (Matthew 16:18).