The persecution of Christians in India has risen over the past year, pushing it up in the list of countries where the practice of the Christian faith is a high-risk activity. Hindu fanatics attempt to forcibly convert people to the dominant faith of their nation, often turning to violence when community discrimination and non-violent oppression fail to impose their religious beliefs on the minority Christians.
The fear is real, the dangers and threat to life ever present. These are the realities facing Voice of the Martyrs Australia’s field workers daily.
Vijay is one of the courageous Voice of the Martyrs field workers. Earlier this year, he was tasked with the distribution of Bibles Plus packs in the Kandhamal district of Odisha, India. In recent years, Kandhamal has been a serious hotspot, where violence against Christians is occurring with frightening regularity.
Because of this volatile situation, Vijay made the decision to change the usual distribution plan. This was not only for his own and his team’s safety, but also because the believers coming to receive their Bibles Plus packs would be taking enormous risks of being attacked.
To avoid staying in one location for too long and attracting the Hindu fanatics, Vijay and his team of organisers, church leaders and evangelists decided to split the Bibles Plus pack distribution for the persecuted Christians into six different but smaller locations. This would enable them to move quickly and hopefully minimise the attention around his activity.
“At each distribution point, we had to work quickly as we anticipated Hindu fanatic groups following us to create chaos and unrest. Once we were set up, we offered a quick prayer, thanking God for His blessings and protection, then very quickly distributed the Bibles Plus packs to the eagerly awaiting believers” said Vijay.
After a relatively trouble-free distribution with the first five locations, the sixth location was different. Despite all efforts to move as quickly as possible, our activity attracted the attention of some very aggressive Hindu fanatics. “I could see their anger rising as the noise grew, I knew an attack from them would be imminent” Vijay recalls. “Before it escalated any further, I managed to call the police, and praise God, they came very quickly and protected us.”
Even so, the police advised Vijay to work quickly as the angry crowd grew larger. Despite this knife-edge tension, he managed to distribute the Bibles Plus packs to the grateful believers.
At all the locations, the persecuted believers were very happy and grateful to receive their Bibles Plus packs. Many were ready and willing to share their joy, even wanting Vijay to take photographs of them holding their new Bible with pride. Most wanted to linger in each location for the opportunity to fellowship with other believers. However with an ever present danger and the apprehension of being attacked by the Hindu fanatics, they had to disperse quickly.
Though fully aware of the life-threatening risks, Vijay is ever-ready and willing to do God’s work and is humbled for the opportunity. “Once again, I do want to thank the Voice of the Martyrs Australia for this awesome help. The relief materials were great, but it is the Bibles which most of the believers first grabbed in their hands while picking up their Bibles Plus pack” Vijay said.
“If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:20-21