After locking the church door, Ashok began walking to his scooter, parked at the end of the path.
The first blow hit his legs and sent him to his knees. The anti-Christian mob was determined to put an end to this pastor who had invaded their area with the gospel. A smashing thud to his head put an end to consciousness, but the beating continued. Finally the men strutted off, leaving Ashok lying in his own blood, presumably dead.
A concerned passerby took him to a hospital. When 31-year-old Ashok awoke in excruciating pain, he was informed that only 40% of the nerves in his legs worked and he had two inoperable blood clots in his brain. The doctors said, “You need to be prepared for your legs to go numb and then be amputated, or just be ready to die.”
Miraculously, several weeks later Ashok walked out of the hospital with only a crutch.
What should have been an end to his ministry wasn’t.
Still on a crutch…and advancing boldly
In the four years since the attack, Ashok still walks on his crutch and has started five new churches.
ANM’s regional director for South Asia, Kishor Pandagade, traveled to the region to spend time with Ashok, his former student and coworker. After visiting churches, Ashok asked Kishor if he would preach in the church near where he was attacked. Kishor’s body suddenly felt cold, even in the 120-degree weather. When he found his voice, Kishor asked about the danger. Ashok’s emphatic response was, “Anything can happen!”
Kishor was reluctant, but to honor this brother’s boldness, he prayed, grabbed his Bible, and perched himself behind Ashok on the scooter. The city street narrowed, and Ashok slowed down saying, “Don’t look at them.” Kishor obeyed, but could not help noticing the endless piles of trash, shirtless men with their bodies slumped in drug-induced stupors, and wild, unsupervised children.
It was getting dark when the scooter then came to a stop. Repositioning his crutch, Ashok instructed, “We walk from here. Hide your Bible, keep your head down, and watch the road.”
Kishor could feel oppression and a demonic presence. Again Ashok spoke, “If something is thrown at you, ignore it and keep walking.”
“How can you do this night after night?” asked Kishor.
“This is what I do,” was the reply.
Then Kishor heard the music. Sweet praise began to fill the air. The sound grew louder as they approached the building. Kishor saw hundreds of sandals neatly lined up outside. They walked into the small sanctuary, where 160 people joyfully welcomed them. Only peace and joy, not fear, filled the atmosphere.
Kishor shared a message of encouragement that brought many to tears of appreciation. Yet Kishor came away more encouraged by the boldness and courage of Ashok and these true followers of Christ in that area.
“Haven’t I commanded you? be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9