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Pastor Released after Eight Years

March 14, 2013

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After eight years of imprisonment under false accusations, Pastor Samuel was released on Wednesday. Gospel for Asia leaders rushed to welcome him as he walked out of jail, greeting him with flowers and praise to the Lord.

Originally accused of Naxalite (Maoist) activities, Pastor Samuel was cleared of all charges in the summer of 2010, but strikes and delayed court hearings prevented him from returning to his wife and 8-year-old daughter. Instead, he faithfully continued sharing the Gospel with the other prisoners around him.

Many prisoners chose to follow Christ through Pastor Samuel’s efforts, and he looks forward to continuing in ministry now that he has been released.

Pastor Samuel was honored with flowers at his evening release.

Leaders prayed with Pastor Samuel before taking him home.

GFA-supported Missionary Samuel Falsely Accused, Imprisoned

Falsely Accused — Samuel stands beside his wife. A jail term on false accusations has kept them apart for over six years.

posted May 24, 2011

Even though the charges against him were dropped last summer, his case continues to drag on in court.

Since our last report in March, there have been several more short hearings. The most significant court date was April 27. At this hearing, one of the state prosecutors asked for additional time to prepare a response. The presiding judge addressed the attorney saying, "Was the last seven years not enough for you to study the case and collect needed information and witnesses related to Pastor Samuel?" The judge then denied the attorney's request, and the hearing continued with both parties presenting their arguments.

Please continue to pray for Pastor Samuel, that he would be released from prison and be reunited with his wife and child.

posted January 21, 2011

After nearly seven years in prison, Pastor Samuel may be close to freedom—if a final hearing scheduled for January 24 results in a favorable verdict.

After years of waiting, his wife and child—sustained by the prayers of believers around the world—still have faith the Lord will bring him home soon.

Last Thursday, Pastor Samuel's attorney convincingly presented the innocence of the Gospel for Asia-supported national missionary.

It is, hopefully, the last chapter in a frustrating story of hearings being repeatedly postponed—first for one reason, then for another.

Encouraging News
Last summer, after years of discouragement, progress seemed to be made when a court ruled the case against Pastor Samuel lacked sufficient evidence or witnesses to stand. The missionary was charged with being a Marxist rebel, part of a group known as Naxalites who killed 19 policemen in a raid in 2004; but the court said it was dropping the case against him because there was no evidence that linked him to the insurgents.

It is difficult to imagine what it is like to be imprisoned for something you didn't do, and perhaps even more difficult to wait year after year while an innocent loved one is behind bars. —Dr. K.P. Yohannan

All that was needed, his attorney was told, was a hearing where he and two others prisoners would receive their final pronouncement. That hearing, set for September, was delayed by a Marxist strike. Then, when it was held later in the month, the judge said Pastor Samuel's final hearing—where he could be freed—would be in October.

Justice Delayed, Justice Denied
The October hearing led to a delay until November, then to December . . . and later to this month.

All the while, Pastor Samuel continued to share the love of Christ behind the prison walls, holding prayer meetings and services, leading lost and desperate men to the Lord and gaining favor and admiration of his jailers.

As the attorneys and judges wrangled, his wife and child continued to wait and pray for his release.

"It is difficult to imagine what it is like to be imprisoned for something you didn't do," commented GFA President K.P. Yohannan, "and perhaps even more difficult to wait year after year while an innocent loved one is behind bars."

Now, at last, this excruciating ordeal may be over.

"We know that our God is in control of all of these events," Dr. Yohannan added. "At this critical time, I ask all of our faithful friends around the world to pray that on January 24, God will move in the hearts of the judges to release this innocent brother swiftly.

posted September 11, 2010

An Indian court has ruled that Gospel for Asia-supported missionary Samuel should be released from prison. Samuel, who has been held in a Jharkhand, India, prison since 2004, was accused of being a member of the Naxalite rebel group.

After a series of trials, the court determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge Samuel with the crime for which he had been arrested and charged. The court declaration came in August, yet Pastor Samuel remains in prison. He is waiting for a final hearing, at which time the court will announce his release date. That hearing is not yet on the court's calendar.

While in prison, Samuel continued to reach out with the love of Jesus. Several of the prisoners chose to follow Christ, and today, there are two weekly worship services in the prison.

Samuel's leaders shared the following praises and prayer requests on his behalf:

  • Praise the Lord that He granted His servant grace to stand firm in this trial, and that his faith did not grow cold or weary, rather it soared high and is deeply grounded.
  • Praise the Lord for His years of faithfulness to Samuel's family in providing for their needs and sustaining them.
  • Praise the Lord that He spoke and touched the hearts of the judiciary authorities in pronouncing justice for our pastor.
  • Thank the Lord for keeping Samuel strong and healthy and giving him a good testimony in the prison.
  • Pray that the date of the release hearing will soon be declared and that no additional delays come up.
  • Pray for Samuel and his family, that they will serve the Lord with the same zeal in the days to come.
  • Pray Samuel's testimony will continue to be fruitful in the prison.
  • Pray for protection for Samuel and his family from the snares of the evil one and the opponents who falsely accused him.

posted April 1, 2010

Jharkhand, India, is home to thousands of insurgent Naxalites fighting for communist control. After a vicious fight that left 19 policemen dead, authorities were on the lookout for the Naxalite rebels behind the attacks. They believed they found one in 2004, and this "rebel" has been serving time in jail since then. But this man wasn't one of the Naxalites. He was Gospel for Asia-supported missionary Samuel.

When it first happened, Samuel's leaders tried everything they could to get him released. But the police were convinced Samuel was the man they wanted. With continued appeals and court cases, time dragged into years. But Samuel has remained firm in his faith—and his calling as a missionary—the entire time.

"Many of our missionaries face extremely difficult and unexpected circumstances," said Gospel for Asia President K.P. Yohannan. "But they know these are normal challenges for servants of God working in such unreached areas where the powers of darkness are so strong. These missionaries are willing to face these unexplainable circumstances and continue on. And God is blessing their sacrifice."

During his time in jail, Samuel has brought his ministry there. Today he leads prayer meetings for the criminals, also worshiping with them during Sunday and Friday gatherings. The jail authorities have come to trust and appreciate Samuel, whose influence has changed many prisoners' lives forever. Nearly 20 inmates found new hope in Christ.

"These missionaries are willing to face these unexplainable circumstances and continue on. And God is blessing their sacrifice."—Dr. K.P. Yohannan

"I was totally depressed in this situation, but the Lord helped me to realize He has a special plan for me to be in the prison," Samuel wrote. "The Lord is helping me to share the love of Jesus with the prisoners. Through my ministry, I see the transformation that is happening in the lives of the prisoners."

However, Samuel's wife and daughter are still on the outside, waiting and praying for Samuel to return home to them. GFA leaders are making sure his family's needs are met during this time of separation.

GFA's correspondent writes that the court situation seems to be turning in Samuel's favor. They continue to hold out hope and pray for his release.

GFA leaders and Samuel's family request prayer that in God's timing, his innocence will be proven and he can go home. Samuel desires to reach as many people as possible during his time in jail, and he prays the new Christians' faith will grow strong. Samuel and his family need prayer for the Lord to be near them during these difficult years.

Recent Court Hearings

  • Update: from 05/24/2011
    Since our last report in March, there have been several more short hearings. But Pastor Samuel still remains in prison. Please continue to pray for him to be released and reunited with his wife and child.
  • Update: from 03/28/2011
    The hearing was again rescheduled for a later date.
  • Update: from 03/09/2011
    A final hearing was set for Friday, March 4. The presiding judge asked for a full summary of the case, which caused the hearing to run over into Monday, March 7. On Monday, it was learned that the judge hearing the case was transferred and a new judge was assigned to the case, so the hearing was stopped. The hearing is now scheduled for March 28.
  • Update: from 02/21/2011
    The February 18 hearing to determine a release date for GFA-supported missionary, Samuel, was postponed until March 1. The delay occurred after a local legal official working on the case unexpectedly died.
  • Update: from 02/07/2011
    The hearing scheduled for February 4 was delayed until February 5. More arguments were presented on behalf of Pastor Samuel. And, as in the last hearing, no one brought any counter arguments against the pastor. "All proceedings have gone in favor of Pastor Samuel," commented GFA's correspondent. The judge set yet another hearing for February 18.
  • Update: from 02/01/2011
    His hearing did take place on January 28. The judge re-examined evidence and listened to Pastor Samuel's attorney. The government prosecutor had nothing to add. Unfortunately, no decision was reached. The judge scheduled another hearing was for February 4.
  • Update: from 01/25/2011
    Pastor Samuel's hearing has been moved to January 28.

How to Pray for Samuel

  • Pray that the next hearing would result in his release from the prison.
  • Pray for the 25 men who join their pastor for prayer in jail, that God will strengthen their faith.
  • Pray his testimony will continue to be fruitful in the prison.
  • Pray that Samuel's family will remain strong in their faith as they wait upon the Lord to release him.

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