Select Page
INDIA: Increasing Pressure from Hindu Nationalists

INDIA: Increasing Pressure from Hindu Nationalists

For many years, the Hindu Nationalist organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been an influential factor in Indian politics, particularly within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). One of the goals of the RSS is to change India from a secular democracy to a nation governed by Hindu polity. This is being achieved by the passing of anti-conversion laws to prevent people from converting from Hinduism.

At least nine states have now passed anti-conversion legislation, including, the Uttar Pradesh state in November. Under this legislation, police have arrested four people – one of them, a Korean national. The four had been distributing aid to people affected by the COVID-19 lockdown and, according to the aid organiser, two of those arrested were not even Christians. No mention was made to the aid recipients of their need to change religion, and no money was given or promised to coerce them. At last report, attempts were being made to secure bail for the detained humanitarian workers.

On 9 January, one of the states that already had anti-conversion legislation, passed newer and tighter restrictions. According to the newly implemented rules of Madhya Pradesh state, anyone wanting to change their faith must obtain official permission 60 days in advance or they could face up to ten years in prison and a fine of $890.

These laws intend to prevent conversion by bribery or coercion but, in practice, they are being used by militants to intimidate and harm religious minorities. For Hindus however, the laws do not seem to apply. There are also numerous reports of coercion being used to convert people to Hinduism in a process called Ghar wapsi which translated means, ‘a homecoming’.

According to a year-end report from Release International, it is expected that Christian persecution in India will increase during 2021 due to the growing influence of Hindu nationalism.

Sources: Release International, Mission Network News, World Watch Monitor

  • Pray for churches and Christian organisations throughout India that are encountering increasing pressures by governing officials and community members.
  • May the Lord give these believers and their leaders wisdom and direction as they seek to share the Gospel, and the courage to follow His leading in the midst of opposition.
  • Pray that those recently arrested will be released and that all charges against them will be dropped.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

INDIA: Christian Pastor Beaten and Left to Die

INDIA: Christian Pastor Beaten and Left to Die

A Christian pastor was beaten unconscious and left locked in a room to die by radical Hindu nationalists in India’s Bihar state.

On 5 October, Pastor Shelton Vishwanathan was attacked by six nationalists as he was distributing Gospel tracts in Tiryani village. The nationalists confronted Pastor Shelton and told him to stop handing out the tracts. After Pastor Shelton agreed to their demands, the nationalists attacked.

The men seized the keys to Pastor Shelton’s scooter, took away his phone, and physically assaulted him. The last thing Pastor Shelton recalled happening was the nationalists were threatening to offer him as a sacrifice to their god as they beat him.

“They punched my back and told me that they would offer me as a sacrifice to their deity as a punishment,” Pastor Shelton said. “They struck severe blows on my head, so that I soon fainted.”

When pastor Shelton regained consciousness, he was locked by himself in a dark room. He was without any food or water.

After several days, an elderly woman who lived nearby heard Pastor Shelton’s cries and released him from the room. The elderly woman told Pastor Shelton the door was bolted from the outside and she was scared the nationalists would come after her if they found out she released him.

“Had she not helped, I would not be alive today,” Pastor Shelton said. “I fully believe that it was God who sent her to help me.”

Sources: International Christian Concern, Morning Star News

  • Thank the Lord for the rescue of Pastor Shelton. Ask God to heal him of any physical harm resulting from the attack and the captivity.
  • Pray too that the Lord will help Pastor Shelton overcome the trauma of the event.
  • Pray the Lord will continue to grow His church in India and ask for strength and protection on behalf of those who are sharing the Gospel on the frontlines.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

INDIA: Virus Restrictions Embolden those Opposed to Christianity

INDIA: Virus Restrictions Embolden those Opposed to Christianity

Christians in the state of Chhattisgarh have faced a tough time since coronavirus restrictions were placed in India.

According to a VOM worker, they face four main challenges: they are not allowed to farm, which is their main source of income; they live in ongoing fear of social ex-communication; they are prohibited from using communal wells; and their Christian activities are closely monitored.

Villages where there are three or fewer Christian families, impose strict guidelines on the Christians; if they perform any Christian activity in their house, they will be ex-communicated, and their land and property will be taken away. For this reason, Christian families sometimes limit church attendance to once a month, walking great distances to attend. Pray for 15 families in particular whom VOM is supporting at this time.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Ask the Lord to provide spiritual encouragement and practical provision to these families who have been targeted and are suffering.
  • Pray the strength and uncompromising faith of these families may be used by the Lord as a witness for the power of the Gospel and the love of Christ.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to be at work in those who currently oppose the Gospel to bring transforming and powerful change.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

INDIA: Church Service Raided by Mob of Radical Nationalists

INDIA: Church Service Raided by Mob of Radical Nationalists

On 16 October, a Christian worship service was attacked by a mob of radical Hindu nationalists in India’s Madhya Pradesh state. After being falsely accused of engaging in forced religious conversions, a pastor and seven other Christians were taken into police custody for questioning.

According to Pastor Dhanlal Pargi, more than 30 radical Hindu nationalists barged into a worship service taking place at India Gospel Church in Talabodi village, located in the Ratlam district.

The mob, led by Bharat Gujjar and Bhavish Gujjar, confronted Pastor Mangilal Pargi and told him that Christian worship should not take place in the village.

“Members of the mob pulled the Bible from Pastor’s hands and yelled at him saying that ‘Reading this Bible leads to many professing Christianity,’” Pastor Dhanlal said.

Pastor Mangilal started India Gospel Church in Talabodi nearly 35 years ago. Since the church was founded, Pastor Mangilal has faced significant opposition.

“The harassment from Hindu radicals is a constant thing,” Pastor Mangilal said. “They bully us whenever we pass through their houses. They tell us that we should close down the church because India is a Hindu country.”

According to Pastor Mangilal, the mob that attacked the church on 16 October also pressured local police into filing a First Information Report (FIR) against him under the state’s anti-conversion law. However, after initially taking Pastor Mangilal and seven other Christians into custody, police released the Christians because no proof was provided by the radicals to support the FIR.

“Their aim is to wipe out the Christian faith from the village,” Pastor Mangilal said. “But we know God will help the Christians to stand boldly in these intense times.”

Source: International Christian Concern

  • Ask the Lord to shield the members and leaders of the church from those who oppose them and the Gospel. Pray the threats from the group will come to nothing.
  • Ask the Lord to grant Pastor Dhanlal and Pastor Mangilal wisdom as they deal with the Hindu nationalists and the authorities.
  • Pray the members of this church will not be discouraged but will see the Lord at work and rejoice.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

INDIA: Fifteen Christian Families Left Homeless after Attack

INDIA: Fifteen Christian Families Left Homeless after Attack

Fifteen Christian families from three villages in India’s Chhattisgarh state were left homeless after being attacked by religious fanatics.

On 22 September, members of the Sarya Adivasi Samaj (SAM) group summoned 15 Christian families to a meeting in Kakadabeda village. At the meeting, the Christians were told they had to recant their faith or they would be forced to leave their villages. When the Christians refused, SAM members attacked.

The Christians were beaten and forced to sign an affidavit which stated they agreed to stop receiving government subsidies, including basic food assistance that is normally distributed on a monthly basis.

After the meeting, SAM members attacked and demolished the homes of the Christians who refused to recant their faith. In total, 15 homes were demolished over the course of two days including 10 in Kakadabeda, two in Tiliyabeda, and three in Singanpur.

“The police and local authorities were not helpful as four homes were destroyed in their presence,” Shiyaram Payam, a local said. “No action was taken against those attacking the homes.”

Following the destruction of the 15 homes, the Christian families fled into the jungle for safety. Many fear further attacks by SAM members. Most are not confident they will receive any form of justice.

Source: International Christian Concern

  • Ask the Lord for justice for these believers. Pray God will lead and provide for them.
  • Pray they will not grow weary or lose heart. May they be unified in their love for Him and encourage one another in the faith.
  • Thank God for their remarkable faithfulness. Pray their witness will be powerfully used by Him.

Post your prayer in the comments below.