Four Christian men in Venezuela were attacked for their faith and suffered serious injuries after hooded men stabbed them, forced them to eat pages of the Bible and etched Xs into their skin.
The attack took place on Feb. 16 at Restoration House, a church-led drug rehabilitation program, in Libertador, a city in Mérida state, in the northwestern area of the country.
“The criminals covered our faces and started to beat and stab us,” one of the victims told persecution watchdog Open Doors.
According to Pastor Dugarte, the pastor of the victims and director of the Restoration House, the home where the victims were living had recently received multiple threats.
“Weeks before the attack, in the middle of a meeting discussing neighborhood issues, two men said they were going to end the Restoration House because they did not agree with this type of program,” Dugarte said.
In an effort to “appease neighbors,” Dugarte agreed with the neighborhood council to reduce the house from 10 men to six men. However, some individuals still took issue with the program.
“In Latin America, the illegal activities of drug gangs are endangered by churches who deter people from criminality,” Open Doors reported. “This can lead to opposition against Christians and may explain this latest incident in Venezuela.”
“The cutting of crosses into the bodies of these young Christians, and the forced eating of pages of the Bible is deeply disturbing,” Dr. David Landrum, director of advocacy and public affairs for Open Doors UK, was quoted as saying.
“This premeditated attack has all the hallmarks of the local ‘collectives’ of the Maduro regime. This shows how Venezuela has become a dictatorial narco-state which is violently opposed to the drug rehabilitation work of the church.”
According to Open Doors, the four men have been discharged from the hospital. One of them remains in poor condition, with injuries to his lungs and head, and two broken ribs. Two others have their legs and arms in casts.
Open Doors has asked Christians worldwide to pray for the men as they recover physically, mentally and spiritually from this horrific incident.
The persecution watchdog also noted that while Venezuela is not in its 2021 World Watch List of the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian, violence against believers in Latin America is on the rise.
Above: The four Christian men after being attacked for their faith.
Photo: Courtesy of Open Doors