Worldlink Partner Murdered on Mission

Worldlink Partner Murdered on Mission
 
On June 8, 2016, Vijay Babu died for the second time.
 
In the darkness of a moonlit mountainous dirt road in Central India, Vijay was ambushed, macheted to death and his body thrown over a cliff and into a rocky ravine.

This eruption of intense hatred came as Vijay was returning alone from a time of sharing the intense love of Christ with remote villagers. He, his wife Vijaya and a few Christians had traveled miles to visit the village on market day. They knew this was a strategic time when the crowds would swell from the region’s smaller huts and hamlets. Everyone from miles around would be there in the market that day. As the apostle Paul had often done in first century Asia and Europe (see Acts 17:17), the small mission team shared the Good News of Jesus with the crowds in the marketplace. The motivation was the same as Paul’s, too. "He was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols (Acts 17:16). 
 
Indeed, that town and the surrounding Koya tribal area was also filled with idols.
 
As the Joshua Project notes:
 
The Koya practice their own ethnic religion, but also worship a number of Hindu gods and goddesses. Many Koya deities are female, the most important being the "mother earth." Sacrifices are carried out by the village priests. The Koya do not believe in heaven, hell, or reincarnation. When a person dies, his body is carried on a cot which is covered with grain, liquor, new clothes, money, and a cow's tail. At the appropriate place, the cot is faced towards the West, and the body is burned. The ashes are placed in a clay pot. The Koya believe that their spirits either linger about the clay ancestor pot, patrol the sky over the village, or wander about the village disturbing daily life.
 
(Read more of the Koya at https://joshuaproject.net/people_groups/17282/IN).

Vijay, and his wife Vijaya had moved with their two young daughters (ages 7 and 9) to that remote region two years earlier because they knew that the Koya tribe was virtually unreached with the Gospel. Almost 1,000,000 Koya tribal people live in villages straddling the Godavari river. And, though the river offered water, the Koya had no way of knowing about the living water that Jesus offered. 
 
As he walked the earth, Jesus, knowing that there were many people in Samaria who needed living water, made a radical choice recorded in John chapter 4. In verse 4 it says, "he had to go through Samaria." While physically he could have avoided Samaria, while culturally he should have avoided Samaria, while emotionally it would've been easier to avoid Samaria, Jesus “had to go” through that area. I believe he had to go because he knew that unreached people awaited and his heart compelled him.
 
Vijay and Vijaya had to go too, because the unreached Koya people awaited and their hearts compelled them
 
For two years they lived in a bamboo hut on rented land and toiled to serve the Koya people they loved with the love of the Lord. They brought electricity to the village… along with the power of the Holy Spirit. They brought pumped water to the village… along with the water of life. They loved and served the people even while a radical group in the area opposed them because they opposed their Lord. They gave their lives to the Koya as they had previously given their lives to Jesus.
 
That is why I said that Vijay died his second death. He had died, in Christ, years before. He had abandoned his life to live for Christ. He was in the village as a dead man preaching.  He knew the truth of Paul’s statement, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (II Corinthians 5:14-15). In fact, Vijaya commented about her husband at his memorial service last Wednesday that, “My husband's desire was to be a martyr and he was influenced by the ministry and life of brother Graham Staines and family. God fulfilled his desire.”
 
A Letter Explaining
 
Suku, the leader of Worldlink’s partners in that area, wrote to me after the memorial service. He said:
 
Dear Brother,

Thank you for your prayers. We have no words to say how God had taken us through a deep forest to meet our dear sister Vijaya, kids and the church. It was a long 6-hour journey to the village called Gullettiwada nearing the border of the states Chatisgarh and Orissa.

There were above 500 people gathered for giving thanks to God for Mr.Vijay Babu's life and ministry. The program was coordinated by the local Brethren Assembly as Vijay's elder brother is also a Missionary in the nearby area from the past 20 yrs.

He not only preached gospel to the unreached but also brought electricity and water pump to the village. The whole village was moved and the village head (animist - he never believed gospel) gave open testimony about Vijay's love for the people through social development and lifestyle as a good human being and also he added that, “this person (Vijay) could do it because he was a Christian. Thank God.

We spend time with Mrs. Vijaya, daughters and family members. They are broken beyond our words.

According to them...

Mr.Vijay and family along with few believers went for a gospel meeting in Jaggampet a place in East Godavari district of A.P . They distributed tracts and done open air meetings … He went by bike and sent back family and believers by bus. He bought Rice and mats for the church and was returning through the usual ghat [mountain pass] road to reach his village. He had to drive around 145 kms and crossed 75 kms and left 70 to reach home. There it happened that jungle robbers attacked him suspecting he was a merchant returning after selling his products in the nearby market.

Nobody had seen what had happened. So we can’t say anything about the incident how and why. Police was informed by someone on the next day. They had conducted postmortem and clearly stated it is a murder. The investigation is going on. No clues until now…

I think most of your questions are answered. I know there is no clarity about why they killed him. We can only suspect as there are no witness.  Few people also suspect antichristian forces because his Bible was crumbled. We don’t know but God delighted in his short life and Vijay is with him. His story is a challenge to the rest of the Christian world. We expect great breakthrough in and around these villages through his death.

With mixed emotion of deep grief and joy of his life in Christ

Suku &Jessy


There are only a few who know the exact reason why Vijay was targeted. God knows, but has not chosen to tell us. The murders know, but they are not coming forward or confessing.
 
Whether he was targeted because of his faith and service or was just in the dangerous area because of his faith and service makes little difference. Vijay Babu would not have been murdered if he were not a Christian on a Mission.
 
Vijay’s mission is the same one that belongs to each of us who are Christians: To share God’s love and Good News with those who have never heard.  
 
I last saw Vijay and Vijaya just 7 months ago at a conference held to encourage our Indigenous Missionary Partners in Andhra Pradesh. On the last day of the conference the local church had arranged a baptism, Vijaya was on the steps of the pool helping the newly baptized women with wraps as they came out of the water. Vijay was nearby with the men. Serving again. Giving themselves again. Now, a few months later, Vijay is resting.
 
We Rest On Thee
 
In 1895, two years before her death at 25 years old, Edith Cherry wrote the poem called “We Rest on Thee”. It was published in a collection of her poems that were later assembled by Edith's mother and subsequently it was put to music and became a beloved hymn sung by millions of Christians. The fame of the poem’s simple words of devotion and commitment to serving Christ exploded when it was revealed that it was the last song sung by five men in 1956 before they entered the Ecuadorian jungle to bring the gospel to another unreached tribe, the Acua. Having put themselves in harm’s way but in God’s hand, these five men were murdered on the banks of the Curaray river and their bodies discovered days later.
 
The martyrdom of these five men crushed families and coworkers, shocked many who never knew them and inspired a new army of Christians who rose up to follow their footsteps into their role of the sacrificial service that would bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who had never heard of him.
 
In a similar way, it is my fervent prayer that the Lord will use the horrible yet beautiful, cowardly yet brave, evil yet good, crushing yet inspiring death of Vijay Babu to ignite in the hearts of all who hear of him a flame of passion to reach the unreached Koya, along with the over two thousand unreached tribes in India and thousands more around the world. That some would pick up the fallen baton of a fallen brother and continue to run the race set before them in front-line indigenous missionary service to unreached people. That some, knowing that their part is not to live in a hut and reach villagers but to provide resources for those who can, might so rearrange their priorities as to free up much more of God's money to do God's mission in reaching the unreached. That some, knowing that they're only resource is in their heart and voice, might storm the throne of heaven in agonizing and tearful pleading for God's current and future missionaries who will be the conduit of living water to the spiritually parched. 
 
As I close this letter, my heart is still hurting. Hurting for the loss of a partner in ministry. Hurting for the family in confusion and need. Hurting for the team who will continue without him. Hurting for the sin-blinded men who snatched his life and grasped a trap. Hurting for the people in darkness who need a new Vijay to bring light. 
 
But, stronger than that hurt, is a clear resolve. Vijay’s life was an example and his death and alarm. I don't know how long the Lord will allow me to continue this mission but, as long as he gives me another moment, I pray for the strength to live like, and the grace to die like, Vijay in the service of the One and Only Savior and for the sake of those who have not heard.
 
We must, inspired by Vijay’s life and death, double or triple our efforts to add more and more indigenous missionaries to more and more countries to reach more and more unreached. When God raises up a person to go back to the Koya in Vijay’s place, Worldlink must be there. When God calls new indigenous men and women to be missionaries to reach out to their own people, Worldlink must be there. When the next wave of indigenous missionaries step out to put their lives on the line for the Lord and his ministry, Worldlink must be there.
 
Vijay’s legacy deserves no less.

I have asked myself often, "is it more difficult to give your life in a singular act of her heroic self-sacrifice for others, or to give your life in a continual, moment by moment, day by day, year after year lifestyle of self-sacrificial love for the good of others?" While I was musing on those things, Vijay was living them. God, give me the strength to do the same.
 
How can we who remain do any less?

Finally, I leave you with the words of Edith Cherry’s poem/hymn. Vijay rested his life on his Shield and Defender. He went with Christ into the battle against the foe. On June 8, Vijay Babu did not return home from the battle. Instead, still resting on Christ, he passed through the gates of pearly splendor and rests with his Jesus through endless days.
 
Rest well, my friend, rest well!
 
We Rest on Thee
 
We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.
 
Yes, in Thy Name, O Captain of salvation!
In Thy dear Name, all other names above;
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.
 
We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day Thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”
 
We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.

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Chuck St.Hilaire

Worldlink, 2650 Eisenhower Avenue, Norristown, PA, 19403