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INDIA: Three Christians Banished from Village

INDIA: Three Christians Banished from Village

Three young Christians from Talbora, located in India’s Odisha state, were banished from their home village because they refused to renounce their Christian faith and convert to Hinduism.

Surander, 22, Subash, 20, and Jamuna, 19, became Christians in 2017 and were baptised in 2018 and 2019. Because there was no church in their village, they would walk to one nearby called Padmathopa to attend weekly worship.

Jamuna’s parents did not approve of their daughter’s new faith and decided they would marry her to a Hindu boy. Jamuna refused her parents decision and secretly married Subash in the church in Padmathopa.

In Talbora, Surander led small prayer meetings under the trees and in open fields. Other villagers saw this activity and became very hostile towards the young Christians when others started to listen to Surander’s preaching.

On 29 August, Surander, Subash, Jamuna, and six others who had attended Surander’s prayer meetings were called to a village meeting. At this meeting, the Christians were threatened with severe consequences if they did not renounce their Christian faith.

Six Christians feared these consequences and renounced their faith. However, Surander, Subash, and Jamuna stood firm in their faith. For this, they were banished from the village.

Surander, Subash, and Jamuna left Talbora with their Bibles, some food, and a few other things given to them by their parents. Through the night, they travelled to Padmathopa where they attended church. In Padmathopa, they were taken in by the local pastor who continues to support the three young Christians.

Source: International Christian Concern

  • Thank the Lord for the strong witness of these young believers. Pray they will continue to remain faithful.
  • Praise God for the pastor who was willing to aid them. Pray for the Spirit’s leading as they make plans for their future.
  • Pray the Lord may use the example of these believers to strengthen those who renounced their faith and encourage them to return. Pray the entire village of Talbora will experience a spiritual awakening.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

INDIA: Pastor Severely Beaten by Mob of Extremists

INDIA: Pastor Severely Beaten by Mob of Extremists

On 21 August, Pastor Kumar*, was attacked and brutally beaten by radical Hindu nationalists in Uttar Pradesh, India. The radicals reportedly accused Pastor Kumar of forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity and used this accusation as a justification for their assault.

According to Pastor Kumar, the radicals attacked while he was returning home from a prayer meeting in Bikampur village, located in the Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh. A mob of 10 fanatics, led by a man named Aklesh Gangyar, surrounded Pastor Kumar and pulled him from his motorbike. Once on the ground, the radicals began to beat Pastor Kumar with wooden clubs.

The attack on Pastor Kumar became so savage that he soon began to think the radicals would murder him.

“God gave me the grace to accept even death,” Pastor Kumar said. “Scriptures were running through my mind as I was being attacked. However, when I thought about my four-year-old daughter and my wife, I was shattered, and it was excruciating.”

The attack lasted nearly two hours. When the radicals finished beating Pastor Kumar, they told him that they would kill him if they saw him in Bikampur village again. As the radicals left, they stole Pastor Kumar’s motorbike and his mobile phone.

Members of Pastor Kumar’s congregation in Bikampur village soon discovered the injured pastor and helped him go to the local police station to report the attack. However, local police refused to file Pastor Kumar’s complaint and accused him of attempting to register a false report. Pastor Kumar’s complaint wasn’t accepted until three days later, after a church leader from outside Bareilly district called the police station and advocated on Pastor Kumar’s behalf.

Pastor Kumar has been serving as a church planter in the Bareilly district for nearly four and a half years. Bikampur village is one of the communities where Pastor Kumar has planted a small church.

To date, the police have not taken any action against the radicals Pastor Kumar named in his complaint. The police have also not recovered Pastor Kumar’s mobile phone or his motorbike.

Unfortunately, the impunity enjoyed by Pastor Kumar’s attackers is not uncommon. Across India, radical Hindu nationalists go unpunished for their crimes against religious minorities. This impunity only emboldens the radicals, whose attacks have become more severe and frequent.

*Name has been changed for security reasons.

Source: International Christian Concern

  • Pray for complete healing for Pastor Kumar. Ask the Lord to give him wisdom and strength to continue in his ministry.
  • Pray He will help Pastor Kumar, his family and his fellow believers overcome any fear (2 Timothy 1:7).
  • Ask the Lord to embolden His church in India to withstand the increasing opposition.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

Providing Life-Changing Practical Help to Women in India

Providing Life-Changing Practical Help to Women in India

In 2008, hundreds of Christians in India were forced to convert to Hinduism as fanatic groups and lynch mobs terrorised villages issuing a stark ultimatum: convert or die.

The violent attacks left many dead and around 50,000 people homeless as churches and homes were burnt to the ground.

Since that time, persecution and violence against Christians in India has not faltered and continues routinely to this day in all parts of the country.

The government remains apathetic to the problem and these fanatic groups are the cause of widespread trouble.

Often most affected by persecution in India are the vulnerable. When men are killed, women are left on their own, unable to earn money to support their families. Widows, the elderly and children suffer and many are left orphaned.

Since 2008, many people have been become homeless, moving from village to village to try to earn a living. Other Christians are controlled by village leaders who will not provide proper identity certification, rendering it impossible for many to work, study and even leave town.

Women and girls are the most affected group, denied justice and basic assistance throughout their entire lives. Hundreds of Christian women are living without identification in appalling conditions, unable to earn an income while enduring discrimination for their faith daily.

Despite this, Christians remain faithful and strong in the Lord.

Last year, Voice of the Martyrs Australia reached out by offering a practical solution to the need and supplied a group of 25 Christian women with sewing machines.

Along with the sewing machines, these women were provided with five months of training. Through this, they became proficient in sewing and tailoring, and learnt how to train others.

After also receiving some working capital, each of these women is now working from home making garments for men, women and children. They then take their handiwork to a local church which distributes them for sale at markets and shops. This gives them a sustainable income source.

There is growing demand for these items and each of the women who received a sewing machine has been able to teach and train others around her, furthering the impact.

Soon enough, local villages and churches saw the success of this project and have reached out with their own proposals so they too can access these sewing machines.

There are plans in 2020 to distribute almost double the number of sewing machines across this region.

Kanchana
“From 2008 to 2018, I experienced much persecution. Because I didn’t want to deny my faith, I was forced to move from place to place. I was unable to earn a steady income but I was also unable to receive any government aid or medical help. I couldn’t manage the needs of myself and my family.

“Before I received the sewing machine, I would collect firewood in the jungle to sell at the markets. I would move the wood all day and I was not happy in this job.

“When I came to Lokebadi in 2019, I applied for one of the sewing machines and when I received one I began to sew my own clothes. Soon, I brought three young ladies who didn’t have any training to teach them how to stitch and they began to help and we produced clothes together to sell.

“It gave me great joy to share this with them and to build their faith in the Lord. I am so glad that even in difficult times, I found help and I am able to help other persecuted women too. God has brought such happiness to all of us.”

Sujanti
Sujanti is originally from a small village in Gunjibadi. In 2008, she lost everything and spent her days roaming from village to village.

Sujanti said she was always down and had no peace in her life due to her suffering. While she worked hard every day, she could not afford medical care or education for her children and worried for them constantly.

In 2019, she was given the opportunity to apply for a sewing machine. After receiving it, she trained in tailoring and learnt how to stitch children’s garments. Before long she was able to sell her wares at the market to earn
an income.

Sujanti has also reached out to others, helping three young women by training them. They now make children’s clothes together, earning a steady income that they never thought possible. It has brought great joy to their lives.

Sujanti was especially happy that she can now give back to her own church since she has been blessed.

Nilondri
In 2008, during the time of great persecution, Nilondri lost all of her family members. She had no income and found herself on the streets for over 10 years, constantly wondering when her next meal would be.

In 2019, she had a chance to enrol herself in the sewing machine project. This encouraged her so much and she began learning to stitch materials for women and children.

Soon enough, when her work was consistent, she started helping two widow believers who were also without an income. She gave them the opportunity to train themselves on her sewing machine and now, along with her, they are earning an income together.

She is so thankful for her sewing machine as she no longer worries about finances.

Lilima
After the 2008 attacks and ongoing harassment, Lilima lost all her property and sources of income. Due to the ongoing persecution she was often chased and would flee from place to place.

She eventually found refuge in Lokebadi.

This is when she says the Lord opened a way for her. She, like the other women, began training and received her own sewing machine. Once she began selling clothes at the markets, she took on three young ladies with no experience and trained them.

Lilima has been instrumental in bringing hope and joy to the lives of these women.

“I am so happy that the dear Lord gave me a source of earning. More than this, I am happy I was able to help three other friends. It is my joy to see them smiling.”

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate

Voice of the Martyrs Australia is an endorsed deductible gift recipient (DGR) by the Australian government. This means you can claim tax deductions for all donations over $2 to Voice of the Martyrs Australia on your tax return.

 

INDIA: Pastor Forced to Vacate Home after False Conversion Accusation

INDIA: Pastor Forced to Vacate Home after False Conversion Accusation

An independent church pastor in India’s Karnataka state has been told to vacate his rented home which was being used for worship gatherings. The pastor has to leave the house because radical Hindu nationalists have put pressure on the pastor’s landlord.

“They threatened that they would break my hands and legs,” Pastor Nallabothula Peter said. “I received several unknown phone calls with abusive language that claimed I am involved in illegal religious conversions and that I don’t have right to live in the area.”

On 30 June, Pastor Peter was praying for a demon possessed girl when police were called to his residence. According to Pastor Peter, neighbours, likely pressured by radicals, had complained about the prayer meeting.

“I doubt the neighbours gave a complaint,” Pastor Peter said. “For more than six years, we have been conducting house prayers and there were absolutely no complaints from anyone in our neighbourhood. This was planned and targeted in a way to shut down the house church and send me out of the colony.”

According to Pastor Peter, his landlord is continually receiving pressure from radical Hindu nationalists telling him that he must force the pastor to vacate the house. The radicals have also registered a false accusation against Pastor Peter, claiming he is attempting to convert the entire colony to the Christian faith.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made finding a new home difficult. “It will be miracle if I rent a house in the same area,” Pastor Peter said. “The Hindu radicals already alerted the entire area to not rent out their houses to me.”

Source: International Christian Concern

  • Ask the Lord to shield Pastor Peter from targeted violence. Pray for continued protection for him, his family and all the believers who he associates with.
  • Pray the Lord will provide a suitable new home for him.
  • Pray Pastor Peter will not be fearful. Ask the Lord to use this incident to further embolden him in his faith and ministry.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

INDIA: Hindu Militants Install Idol Inside Church

INDIA: Hindu Militants Install Idol Inside Church

Last week, a statue of a monkey-headed Hindu god was installed inside a Protestant AOG church that was undergoing renovations, in Haryana, northern India. The Hindu activists responsible then manhandled the church pastor and vandalised the building.

The group claims that a Hindu temple once existed there, though they have failed to produce any documents to substantiate the claim. The church holds documents of ownership to the land.

The Hindus continued to offer daily prayers before the monkey-headed Hindu god, according to church officials. After several days, the statue was removed by police. Tensions remain high.

Pastor Uday Pillai, the associate pastor of the church said violence against Christians is normal in Haryana and most cases go unreported. Only 0.2% of its people are Christian.

As part of its services, the church offers schooling to 210 slum children. Hindu groups claim Christian services such as education and health care among the poor, are a façade to attract them toward Christianity.

Sources: VOM Contacts, UCA News

  • Pray for the pastor, his family and the members of the church.
  • Fanatical groups are trying to force believers to return to their former Hindu faith. Pray the Lord will strengthen believers facing this kind of opposition.
  • Pray the believers in Haryana will be unified in their love for one another and their witness to the community.

Post your prayer in the comments below.