Four men who are part of a Gospel for Asia film team arrested Friday night in Madhya Pradesh, India, are still in jail today. The team was screening a movie about the life of Christ when they were arrested. They are scheduled to appear before a judge on Tuesday, April 1.
The team, comprised of GFA-supported missionaries Nima Venkatesh and Prem Billa and two volunteers, had secured all the necessary permissions from the police and village authorities to show the film. But a radical, anti-Christian organization in the area alerted some higher government officials that the Christians were showing the film and accused them of forcibly converting people to Christianity, which is illegal. The police then arrested the missionaries and seized their equipment.
Because the men were arrested on Friday night, they had to wait until Monday for the court to open. When they attempted to appear before the court on Monday, there was no judge to hear their case, so it was pushed back until Tuesday.
GFA President K.P. Yohannan says the film team is living out one of the lesser quoted promise of Jesus from Matthew 10:18.
“Jesus clearly told His followers ‘You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles,’” Yohannan said. “So we are never surprised when our workers are arrested, even though it is unjust. But we also cling to the second part of Jesus’ promise in Matthew 10:19-20, when He assures His followers by saying that ‘…when they do deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.’ So, we are praying that God would fill these men with His grace to speak the truth of God’s love before this judge.”
Christian leaders in Madhya Pradesh are also trying to set up meetings with district authorities to have the men released and their equipment returned to them.
“We are also praying that God would speak through these leaders when they meet with the local authorities,” Yohannan said.
Yohannan asks for prayer for the film team and for the leaders speaking on their behalf. He asks for specific prayer that they would not be disheartened at this point of difficulty and that the Lord’s presence and comfort would be real to them at this crucial time.