Every so often I receive a detailed story about a Christian leader who was martyred. It’s a sad part of my work, and it is never easy knowing that those killed worked with my friends. I recall the video I received of an evangelist who was bludgeoned to death with ‘two by fours.’ I couldn’t sleep well for a few days after seeing that one.
Although all martyr stories are difficult to bear, the one I’m sharing here has gripped me daily for more than a month. I will warn that this story, and the pictures posted below, may be difficult to bear. I’ve never posted or blogged anything like this, but this time I felt it was important to share this.
Every follower of Jesus must count the cost of discipleship.
Nitish was a young evangelist from Bihar, India. He was only 16 years old at the time of his death, and he wasn’t the typical teenager hanging out at a coffee shop or video-surfing on TikTok. I’m fairly sure he never heard of either. His young life was lived entirely in Northern India, a very dangerous location that is often in the news because of violence toward Christians.
To help his family financially, Nitish sold vegetables with his mom from a street vendor cart. It’s their family business. Though the family is poor they are happy because they have Jesus and God’s grace in their lives. Christ in them is their hope and deepest satisfaction. I learned these details through my dear friend, an Indian man* who is gifted as a global apostle. He oversees many young leaders in India, including Nitish.
In addition to being an evangelist and a street vendor, Nitish was also a full-time pastor.
Again, not a typical teenager. He held services, preached the gospel, prayed for the sick and upheld the Bible as the true word of God.
Remarkably, Nitish was very fruitful and effective in sharing the gospel with those who have yet to hear about Christ. He shared Christ frequently. At first Nitish was ignored by the radicals, but as more and more people started responding to the good news of the gospel through his preaching, they felt threatened and warned him to stop his meetings. Nitish was not deterred. He insisted on telling others about Jesus.
Acts 4:29 was his verse of choice: “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”
The radicals plotted a scheme, and while Nitish was selling vegetables this past August, they poured acid all over his body, and he passed out from the pain of the burns. His sister saw this happen and helped him get back to his house, where their house church gathered and prayed/wept for him before he was admitted into the hospital. At the hospital he was treated from his neck down to his feet. Virtually every part of his body was scorched, EXCEPT, by God’s grace, his face.
85% of his body was burned; his skin was destroyed, and the pain was nearly unbearable as he lay in the hospital. Although many of us prayed for him to survive, on September 25th, this mighty young pastor-evangelist received his heavenly reward. His life was taken from his family, his church and his nation. We were both relieved AND heartbroken when his suffering ended.
During his 45-day battle to survive, somehow supernaturally, his friends and family could see him and pray with him. Inexplicably, his face was not damaged. Every day while fighting to survive, his smile could be seen in spite of the excruciating pain that he was enduring.
Nitish was a handsome young man who reminded me of my own sons at that age. It also has made me weep many times since getting, and seeing, the news. His apostle, my friend who will go unnamed, wept aloud with me on the phone, as together we shared in the anguish of such an incredible young life being taken too soon.
The ambush style of killing sent shock waves through the city where the death occurred. More Christian families are under a similar threat, so we are on high alert, praying for them. Law enforcements were notified.
We pray that righteousness and the gospel will prevail.
The fire in Nitish’s heart cannot be explained naturally, only through the lens of the gospel. As followers of Jesus we must recognize our lives are not our own, we belong to a different world… one that’s owned and led by a Savior-King whom much of this world does not know.
The teenager Nitish, though dead, will not be silenced, and his family’s tears continue to soak their little home and the place where they live. My friend asked the family, “What do you need?” Their answer… “Bibles. We need more Bibles for our region.” This was the answer from a grieving mother, who has never owned a blouse and will never choose revenge.
The gospel must not be silenced. For those of sincere faith in the Lamb of God, we weep today, but be of good cheer, for tomorrow we will spend eternity with our God and Savior, and Nitish.
As our Scripture reminds us, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
And again, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
We cannot be silenced by radical opposition. We must do what we can for Northern India.
Jordan Lewis Missions will be sending resources to our beloved friend, the apostle of India, so he can provide this family with Bibles, food and potentially legal counsel. We can do this and we must. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The future depends on what you do today. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Not everyone will want to read this report filled with so much agony and pain. I understand, and I also understand losing a son. But you have read this and I thank you. Together we can make a difference in some of the most challenging places in the world.
Click here if you’d like to help this family and region, and choose India in the drop-down menu. Jordan Lewis Missions is a bridge to the unreached around the world. For this project, all resources are being sent to our trustworthy ministry in India that reaches multiple thousands of unreached and the poorest of the poor.
May the following scriptures encourage you as they have me, when we consider the trials and travails of Christian martyrs around the world. More than 340 million Christians – one in eight – face high levels of persecution and discrimination because of their faith
They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” – Revelation 6:9-10
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. – Revelation 2:10
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” – Matthew 5:11
* I withheld his name for his security. This area has been called the “graveyard of the martyrs.”