Four Venezuelan Christians were terrorized by eight hooded men who stormed the Restoration House, a church-led drug rehabilitation center in the country.
"The criminals covered our faces and started to beat and stab us," one of the victims described. "They drew [a cross] on our bodies and forced us to eat the Bible."
Persecution watchdog group Open Doors said that the rehab center had received threats recently from those opposed to the ministry's work.
The four believers were all transported to a hospital and all have been discharged. At least one of them is facing a long recovery process after suffering broken ribs, as well as injuries to his lungs and to his head.
"The cutting of crosses into the bodies of these young Christians, and the forced eating of pages of the Bible is deeply disturbing," said Dr. David Landrum, the director of advocacy and public affairs for Open Doors.
"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 drugs rehabilitation work of the church," he added.
One reason Christians are disliked in Venezuela is the predominance of crime and gang activity in the Latin American nation. The redemptive work of the church is seen as a threat to the sustainability of illegal criminal behavior.