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Indian Christians Facing Increased Persecution as Christmas Nears

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Church building demolished on Jan. 9, 2019 in Narnepadu village, Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh state, India. (Morning Star News)

(Voice of the Persecuted) Christians in India are suffering increased persecution with a recent surge of violence, intimidation or harassment against them. With the uptick of reports and investigations of Christians being persecuted, sadly most cases go unreported as victims and witnesses are terrified of repercussions. Authorities often ignore or refuse to record incidents or perpetrators of these crimes will file false claims against the Christian victims who then end up being arrested.

As Voice of the Persecuted had feared in 2014, Christian persecution has spiked under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi is a former militant with the Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS), one of India’s most active and violent radical Hindu organizations. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is known for its open support to groups such as the RSS, as well as for backing a state that is 100 percent Hindu. Modi, as a BJP member, was the party’s choice as candidate for the post of prime minister. Modi has won two consecutive terms with a full majority since 2014. This has encouraged radical persecution against religious minorities in the country.

Indian Christians are frequently and falsely accused of bribing or forcing people to become Christians. Mobs attack, burn down churches and destroy properties, beat and sometimes kill Christians for their faith. In only a single week in December, International Christian Concern documented over half a dozen instances of religious persecution against Christians. The group said as many of the world’s Christians prepare to celebrate Christmas, Indian Christians are struggling with a growing sense of fear.

The report shared that 10 Christians were arrested on false charges, 25 Christian families were cut off from clean drinking water, and several churches, including one church with nearly 600 members, was shut down. The increasing intolerance is impacting their ability to freely celebrate Christmas, ICC shared. Some churches have felt forced to cancel Christmas programs out of fear they will invite attacks.

In of one of the recent incidents, a mob of extremist Hindu nationalists attacked and savagely beat members of Rev. Bhovi’s church community as they cleared land to build a church. Following the attack, extremists cut the water supply for 25 Christian families and threatened to drive them out of the village unless they renounced their faith in Christ.

“We were small in number at the police station compared to mob of Hindu radicals,” the pastor said. “All of the 25 Christian families were present at the police station to lodge a complaint; however, the police told us that Christians cannot hold any meetings in the village and that pastors from outside the village cannot visit the Christian families, even during this festive season.”

“We have cancelled all our Christmas events in Banni Mardatti village, including carols, cottage meetings, and pre-Christmas events,” said Pastor Raja Bhovi of His Grace Church in India’s Karnataka State. Pastor Bhovi said he planned to take the 25 Christian families of his flock to Arsikare, a town that is 30 kilometers away from their home in Banni Mardatti village, to celebrate Christmas. “Our hope is that we will have a peaceful Christmas celebration, even though it is away from our homes,” Bhovi said.

Extremists closed a church in Uttar Pradesh after filing a false criminal complaint against the church’s pastor, Rev. Ramjit, accusing him of being involved in forced religious conversions. Police told Ramjit that he was no longer permitted to hold Sunday worship services at his church. “We are very uncertain about this year’s Christmas,” Pastor Ramjit said. “Unlike previous years, we have been told to shut down our church since December 8. It is a very painful situation for us now. We are all hoping that things will change.” Pastor Ramjit has appealed the decision and is trying to get permission to hold a Christmas service.

“If we fail to get permission, we will have to organize several smaller gatherings in homes on Christmas day. We are going to have a service one way or another,” the pastor said.

Tonight, the Prayer Team will be lifting up Christians in India on the prayer conference call. If the Lord is breaking your heart for these dear Indian brothers and sisters, come pray with us on the call. Prayers will also be shared for those suffering in China and Burma.

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What is Persecution Watch?

Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin has led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also serves as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ.

Meet you on the call!

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