Story of slain missionary Graham Staines hits big screen
As Australia debates freedom of speech and religion, the story of Graham Staines, a missionary slain in India for his beliefs, is coming to the big screen.
Graham Staines was killed by Hindu extremists 20 years ago, along with his sons Philip, aged 10, and Timothy, aged 6.
Mr Staines, who spent more than 30 years in India treating those with leprosy, was asleep in their old Willy jeep station wagon in Odisha, India in January, 1999 when the attack happened.
Remarkably, his widow Gladys and daughter Esther, remained in India for years, continuing the work after publicly forgiving her husband's killers.
The family's story is now the subject of a movie, The Least of These, which will have its Australian premiere on the Sunshine Coast tonight (May 8) before being launched nationally on May 16.
Mrs Staines, who is now living in Townsville, is expected to be at the Maroochydore cinema for the launch.
Graham Staines' brother Don, said Christians around the world were increasingly being targeted for their beliefs.
A recent report from the Open Doors watchdog found one in three Christians in Asia faces high levels of persecution.
More than 4300 Christians were killed due to their beliefs around the world last year, most of them in Nigeria.
In China, about half of the country's 100 million Christians face persecution. Around the world, 245 million Christians - one of of 9 - face high levels of abuse.
Mr Staines said he believed persecution would only get worse.
He said Christians had become an unwanted 'conscience prick' for declining moral values and the easiest way for opponents to deal with it was to 'get rid of the prick'.
"It just makes us realise the time clock is ticking very fast.''
He likened the persecution to that faced by Jews by the Nazis during World War II.
The Least of These tells Graham Staines' story through the eyes of an young Indian journalist who is sent out by a newspaper editor to find evidence Mr Staines is operating illegally in trying to convert Indians to Christianity.
Mr Staines is played by Stephen Baldwin while the film also features music from Christian music veteran Michael W Smith.