A Pentecostal pastor was arrested last Tuesday after distributing evangelical pamphlets and Bibles in Lalas village, Himachal Pradesh.
Pastor John, accompanied by two Christian brothers, was confronted by a group of Hindu nationalists who ordered him to stop the distribution process. They then accused the trio of forced conversion activities, including giving people money in exchange for their conversion.
Sources: International Christian Concern, Asia News
Pastor John pleaded not guilty, stating: “I only offered the Bible, and I gave it to those who freely accepted the Good News. Some people rejected the gospel I was giving them, and I didn’t insist.”
He continued, “I am even willing to offer the Bible, which is the Word of God, to the police. What we do is share the Good News with people, tell them about Jesus, but without forcing anyone to convert. The accusations made against me are totally false: I have never offered money to convert people.”
In states where anti-conversion laws are enacted, including Himachal Pradesh, they are widely used to spread disinformation about minorities and provide legal cover for radical Hindu nationalists and their activities. Christian leaders and evangelists are often falsely accused of forcefully converting individuals to Christianity to justify harassment and assault. Local police often overlook this harassment due to the false accusation of forced conversions.
In 2020, the religious freedom situation in India deteriorated to such a degree that the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended India be designated a Country of Particular Concern (“CPC”), a designation reserved for the world’s worst violators of religious freedom.
Let us pray.
- Pray for Pastor John that he will not be fearful but may be spurred on to continue to share his faith. Pray his witness may inspire others.
- Pray for the people who received the Bible he passed out, that the Holy Spirit may be at work in them to lead them to Christ.
- Ask the Lord to give Pastor John wisdom as he deals with the authorities. Ask the Lord for his favour to be upon him. Pray the facts of the case will be brought to light and that the Lord would be glorified through this case.