VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Category Archives: India

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Sixteen Christians arrested for ‘forced conversions’ of tribals in Jharkhand

(AsiaNews) – Police in Jharkhand arrested 16 missionaries on Sunday on charges of converting tribal Adivasi by force to Christianity, the Press Trust of India reported.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said that “In Jharkhand, extreme right-wing groups systematically persecute members of religious minorities, especially Christians.”

The arrests took place in the District of Dumka, after Ramesh Hembrom, village chief in Phoolpahari, filed a complaint.

Seven women were among those taken into custody. Police Superintendent Kishore Kaushal said that those arrested were part of a group of 25 “preachers” held hostage “by an angry mob of tribals living in the village”.

According to the policeman, the Christians were held for two days by residents in the Shikaripara area, who accused them of insulting a place of tribal worship.

The police did not disclose the names of the Christian missionaries involved in the case of alleged forced conversions. “We are verifying the allegations,” Kaushal said.

The officer noted that in his complaint, Hembrom claimed that the attempt to convert the tribals to Christianity had been going on for several months.

He said that he had seized several posters and copies of religious texts in the possession of the accused.

Manoj Kumar Thakur, head of the Shikaripara police station, told the Indian newspaper that his officers are trying to identify “the network behind the conversion attempts” that violate the Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Act. Read more

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Ramadan Challenge: Day 11 – Why are Christians praying for Muslims?

My Brothers and Sisters, the following verse is so familiar to many, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

We believe this in regards of our own salvation, but do we really believe that God died to save Muslims or other unbelievers?

One of our ministry partners said, “Since we joined in praying through Ramadan for Muslims to hear the Truth and follow Christ, we have lost a few who follow us.” During our nightly prayer conference calls, some of our numbers have also dropped since beginning the Ramadan Prayer Challenge.

These are Christians who believe we should not pray for the salvation of Muslims. Sadly, some even say Muslims deserve eternal torment.

Let’s continue in John 3:17. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged;”

Then verse 18 continues, “he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Let us think a moment.  Were we any better off when, at one time, were we not all enemies of God?  If we think we were better than Muslims, or other unbelievers. then dwell on the scriptures below,

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.. Romans 3:23

For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life….Romans 5:10

What!!! Me? Born to Christian parents, in America, the West, in a Christian society…an enemy of God?!? But this is the testimony of the word of God. All of us were enemies of God.  Both Muslim and non-Muslim. We all were enemies of God.

Consider these scriptures,

For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly…Rom. 5:6

But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…Rom.5:8

Jesus died to save all sinners.

Do you pray for those unsaved in your family, circle of friends or co-workers? Most Christians we know do. Will we ever stop praying for them, not likely. Surely, somebody prayed for us to come to understanding and the saving faith of a life in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s easy to pray for those we care about, but what about the many unbelievers around the world you don’t know?

Some may argue that God has elected who would come to faith and be saved. We know that all of God’s chosen elect will be saved during their life on earth. But, it’s not humanly possible to know who God’s elect are before they come to faith. And like the thief on the cross, we can’t comprehend when their salvation comes.

Realizing what happens to unbelievers after death should lead us to share the Gospel with them as we pray incessantly, in hope, that they will respond and become a part of our Kingdom family.

Charles Spurgeon once said,

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

Paul wrote in a letter to Timothy,

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. 1 Timothy 2:1-8

Paul, was also known as Saul of Tarsus before his divine encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. He was a persecutor of Christians and even agreed with and witnessed the stoning of Stephen.

It’s true that many Christians are being persecuted in Islamic nations. But let us not grow cold towards them and listen to Christ,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore [b]you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48
As we continue on the nightly prayer conference call during Ramadan, using the Prayercast Ramadan Challenge prayer points, let us unite in prayer that the church in Asia will grow. Let us pray that there will be those who will come under the shadow of Jesus, and for the Light of Christ to shine in that Nation.
See tonight’s prayer conference call details below.

Najma has an encouraging testimony of a sister who was brought to faith in Jesus Christ through prayer. She also tells the story how her mother prayed for her Muslim father to come to faith in Christ through prayer.

As you pray for Muslims across South Asia and Indo-Malaysia, don’t forget that our God is mighty to save! He continues to save REAL people each and everyday. People like Najma.

Though her story is filled with horrific violence and immense suffering, it also is permeated with the miraculous power of God. Now a follower of Jesus, Najma has remained in India – at the risk of her life – to share the love of Jesus with other Muslims.

WATCH her powerful story.

  • PRAISE God that nothing is impossible with Him!
  • PRAY for Muslims in every corner of South Asia and Indo-Malaysia to be reached.
Our prayers do have an impact on the things of eternity and the souls of men and women to find truth in him who is the Living Word. Please join us on the prayer conference call to lift prayers up together. As ever, I remain your brother and prayer partner in our Lord Jesus. Meet you on the call!

Blaine Scogin, Prayer Director of Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted

VOP Note: If you are unable to participate on the call, or cannot join us on a particular evening, you can still use the prayer points and pray in your personal prayer closet. The only thing I would urge you is, please do it.  Whether you pray privately, in a group, or on our call, please pray for a great harvest of souls during this time of Ramadan.

Nightly Call scheduled through Ramadan 

Time:
9 p.m. Eastern time
8 p.m. Central time
7 p.m. Mountain time
6 p.m. Pacific time
Call Number:  
712-775-7035
Access Code:
281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

Available International IDOP Prayer Conference Call Numbers

(Note: If using one of the call numbers below, you may experience issues in your country. If you are unable to connect, try using the VoIP dialer available at this link. Click on VoIP dialer, go to this number 712-775-7035 in the drop down menu—enter access code 281207 (do not add the # symbol)—enter your name and click on the ‘Place Call’ button.)

Australia                                              +61 (0) 3 8672 0185

Austria                                                  +43 (0) 732 2781155

Belgium                                                +32 (0) 9 324 29 17

Brazil                                                     +55 61 4040-4314

Bulgaria                                                +359 (0) 2 495 1527

Canada                                                 (712) 775-7060

Chile                                                      +56 (0) 44 890 9161

China                                                     +86 (0) 510 6801 0117

Costa Rica                                            +506 4000 3885

Croatia                                                  +385 (0) 1 8000 065

Cyprus                                                  +357 77 788854

Czech                                                    +420 225 852 060

Denmark                                               +45 78 77 36 35

Dominican Republic                             (829) 999-2585

Estonia                                                 +372 614 8061

Finland                                                 +358 (0) 9 74790032

France                                                  +33 (0) 1 80 14 00 56

GCC/Arabian Peninsula                       +973 1656 8325

Georgia                                                +995 (0) 706 777 110

Germany                                             +49 (0) 89 143772955

Guatemala                                          +502 2458 1416

Hungary                                               +36 1 987 6821

Iceland                                                 +354 539 0323

Indonesia                                            +62 (0) 21 51388813

Ireland                                                  +353 (0) 1 437 0318

Israel                                                     +972 (0) 76-599-0026

Italy                                                       +39 06 8997 2187

Japan                                                    +81 (0) 3-5050-5075

Kenya                                                   +254 (0) 20 5231033

Latvia                                                    +371 67 881 516

Lithuania                                              +370 (8) 37 248962

Luxembourg                                        +352 20 30 10 03

Malaysia                                              +60 (0) 11-1146 0070

Mexico                                                 +52 (01) 899 274 5015

Netherlands                                       +31 (0) 6 35205061

Nigeria                                                  +234 (0) 1 440 5221

Norway                                                +47 21 93 53 35

Pakistan                                               +92 (0) 21 37130640

Panama                                                +507 838-7821

Poland                                                  +48 32 739 96 40

Portugal                                               +351 21 114 3145

Romania                                              +40 (0) 31 780 7760

Slovakia                                                +421 2 333 255 32

Slovenia                                               +386 (0) 1 828 03 25

South Africa                                         +27 (0) 87 825 0107

South Korea                                       +82 (0) 70-7686-0015

Spain                                                     +34 931 98 23 70

Sri Lanka                                              +94 (0) 11 5 322961

Sweden                                               +46 (0) 31 781 06 26

Switzerland                                        +41 (0) 43 550 70 55

Taiwan                                                  +886 (0) 985 646 917

Turkey                                                  +90 (0) 212 988 1713

Ukraine                                                +380 (0) 89 323 9978

United Kingdom                                 +44 (0) 330 606 0527

United States                                                (712) 775-7035

Vietnam                                                 +84 (0) 4 7108 0080

Ramadan Challenge: Day 10 – India

Prayercast

It is believed that the Apostle Thomas was chosen to begin the church in India. His first mission took him to the Parthian empire in the Indo-Scythian border province of Kandahar (now in Afghanistan). During his second visit to India, Thomas based at Musiris (Cranganore) in Kerala in 52 A.D. He made his first converts of Jews and Hindus in Cranganore, Palayur and Quilon among other places.

He organized the new coverts and appointed priests. He erected the first church in India at Palayur, now in Trichur district. It is also believed he established six other churches in India.

Thomas moved to the east coast, then on to China. On his return to India he went to Madras (now Chennai). The people there did not welcome Thomas nor the Good News he preached. Later, he was persecuted and killed in a cave in what is now called the St Thomas’ Mount in 72 A.D.

Let us join together and consider the lost in India, today.

SUMMARY

India captivates and overwhelms the senses of all who visit with its vibrant colors, immense crowds, and overpowering smells. One of the largest and most diverse countries in the world, India is filled with more than 2,500 distinct people groups who speak over 456 languages. A staggering one billion people are dispersed over one million square miles. Tremendous recent economic growth has led to an increasingly important role in global affairs. Yet the permeating and ever-present reality of India’s extensive poverty remains.

There is more human need in India than in any other country. Approximately 191 million people, 15% of the population, are malnourished. Roughly 50,000 children in India are orphans, and about 22% of the population lives in poverty. The caste system, a once rigid cultural institution that assigned people to a social stratum based on birth, led to many horrific human rights abuses. Though officially abolished, it continues to hold great influence over the culture and remains a major bar to social mobility. To this day, it is difficult for people of lower castes to find jobs, no matter what their education or background. India’s infrastructure is unreliable, and political corruption is rampant. Overpopulation also makes pollution and sanitation unmanageable. These contribute to deadly realities such as contaminated water and widespread diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, and more.

One of the least reached countries on earth, 95% of Indians have never heard of Jesus! While Hinduism is practiced by about 74%, only about 5% identify as Christians. But because of the sheer size of the population, even minorities (Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs) number in the millions each. The Muslim minority is so large that within decades it is predicted that India will be the world’s largest Muslim nation. The legacies of Christian workers like William Carey and Mother Teresa have left a mark on this nation, revealing the massive positive contribution Christianity has made on education, health, social issues, and society. Yet it is still often seen as a threat to the traditional Hindu way of life. Anti-conversion laws make it difficult to share the Gospel. Those who choose to follow Jesus are often threatened with losing their status, jobs, homes, and even lives. Many Christian organizations have been forced out, leaving many bereft of physical and spiritual aid. However, despite the intense persecution, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in India.

PRAYER POINTS

• Pray for the cultural barriers of the caste system and Hinduism to be overcome by the Gospel.

• Pray for the Good News of Jesus Christ to reach every village and town.

• Pray for justice and hope in a nation plagued by oppression, poverty, and disease.

As we continue on the nightly prayer conference call during Ramadan, using the Prayercast Ramadan Challenge prayer points, let us unite in prayer that the church in India will grow. Let us pray that there will be those who will come under the shadow of Jesus, and for the Light of Christ to shine in that Nation.
Please watch the video below and see prayer conference call details below.
Our prayers do have an impact on the things of eternity and the souls of men and women to find truth in him who is the Living Word. Please join us on the prayer conference call to lift prayers up together. As ever, I remain your brother and prayer partner in our Lord Jesus. Meet you on the call!

Blaine Scogin, Prayer Director of Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted

VOP Note: If you are unable to participate on the call, or cannot join us on a particular evening, you can still use the prayer points and pray in your personal prayer closet. The only thing I would urge you is, please do it.  Whether you pray privately, in a group, or on our call, please pray for a great harvest of souls during this time of Ramadan.

Nightly Call scheduled through Ramadan 

Time:
9 p.m. Eastern time
8 p.m. Central time
7 p.m. Mountain time
6 p.m. Pacific time
Call Number:  
712-775-7035
Access Code:
281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

Available International IDOP Prayer Conference Call Numbers

(Note: If using one of the call numbers below, you may experience issues in your country. If you are unable to connect, try using the VoIP dialer available at this link. Click on VoIP dialer, go to this number 712-775-7035 in the drop down menu—enter access code 281207 (do not add the # symbol)—enter your name and click on the ‘Place Call’ button.)

Australia                                              +61 (0) 3 8672 0185

Austria                                                  +43 (0) 732 2781155

Belgium                                                +32 (0) 9 324 29 17

Brazil                                                     +55 61 4040-4314

Bulgaria                                                +359 (0) 2 495 1527

Canada                                                 (712) 775-7060

Chile                                                      +56 (0) 44 890 9161

China                                                     +86 (0) 510 6801 0117

Costa Rica                                            +506 4000 3885

Croatia                                                  +385 (0) 1 8000 065

Cyprus                                                  +357 77 788854

Czech                                                    +420 225 852 060

Denmark                                               +45 78 77 36 35

Dominican Republic                             (829) 999-2585

Estonia                                                 +372 614 8061

Finland                                                 +358 (0) 9 74790032

France                                                  +33 (0) 1 80 14 00 56

GCC/Arabian Peninsula                       +973 1656 8325

Georgia                                                +995 (0) 706 777 110

Germany                                             +49 (0) 89 143772955

Guatemala                                          +502 2458 1416

Hungary                                               +36 1 987 6821

Iceland                                                 +354 539 0323

Indonesia                                            +62 (0) 21 51388813

Ireland                                                  +353 (0) 1 437 0318

Israel                                                     +972 (0) 76-599-0026

Italy                                                       +39 06 8997 2187

Japan                                                    +81 (0) 3-5050-5075

Kenya                                                   +254 (0) 20 5231033

Latvia                                                    +371 67 881 516

Lithuania                                              +370 (8) 37 248962

Luxembourg                                        +352 20 30 10 03

Malaysia                                              +60 (0) 11-1146 0070

Mexico                                                 +52 (01) 899 274 5015

Netherlands                                       +31 (0) 6 35205061

Nigeria                                                  +234 (0) 1 440 5221

Norway                                                +47 21 93 53 35

Pakistan                                               +92 (0) 21 37130640

Panama                                                +507 838-7821

Poland                                                  +48 32 739 96 40

Portugal                                               +351 21 114 3145

Romania                                              +40 (0) 31 780 7760

Slovakia                                                +421 2 333 255 32

Slovenia                                               +386 (0) 1 828 03 25

South Africa                                         +27 (0) 87 825 0107

South Korea                                       +82 (0) 70-7686-0015

Spain                                                     +34 931 98 23 70

Sri Lanka                                              +94 (0) 11 5 322961

Sweden                                               +46 (0) 31 781 06 26

Switzerland                                        +41 (0) 43 550 70 55

Taiwan                                                  +886 (0) 985 646 917

Turkey                                                  +90 (0) 212 988 1713

Ukraine                                                +380 (0) 89 323 9978

United Kingdom                                 +44 (0) 330 606 0527

United States                                                (712) 775-7035

Vietnam                                                 +84 (0) 4 7108 0080

Hindu Extremists’ Level Spurious Accusation of ‘Conversion Racket’ in India, Sources Say

(From left) Rajni Pradhan and couple Sarah and Subash Kumar, after appearing in court two days after their arrest. (Morning Star News)

India (Morning Star News) – Christians in eastern India were worshipping on April 29 when Hindu extremists attacked and had them arrested on baseless accusations of operating a “conversion racket,” sources said.

Three of seven Christians arrested have been in jail since then, and yesterday a judge in Danapur, Bihar state, rejected their plea for bail.

Some 60 Hindu extremists stormed into the house church service where 50 Christians had gathered to worship, 19-year-old Angel Pariyar told Morning Star News.

“It was a difficult and tense moment for us,” she said. “A huge crowd surrounded our house, and they stopped us from even going inside our own house. We were made to stand outside as they called up police and reported against us, calling our worship service a ‘conversion racket.’”

The mob, members of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (student wing of RSS), harassed and attacked women, but when police arrived they arrested Pariyar’s parents and other Christians, she said.

Her parents, Subash Kumar and wife Sarah, along with Ravi Singh, Rajni Pradhan, Suraj Pradhan, Amit Kumar and Santoshi Devi, were taken into custody by Rupaspur police after the assault. Her parents and aunt, Rajni Pradhan, remain incarcerated.

“60 Hindu youth activists showed up at the entrance of our house and started shouting at us, ‘Why are you converting people?’ and abused my family in filthy language,” Pariyar said. “My mum told the youths that we are only worshipping in our house and asked, ‘Why are you interfering in this?’”

Pariyar’s family, of Nepalese descent, has lived in India for generations, and the assailants used highly derogatory language as they accused them of coming from Nepal to convert Indian Hindus, she said.

“They issued threats to my parents, ‘We will kidnap your daughter – we will take her away,’” Pariyar told Morning Star News. “My father told them that if they have anything against us, let that be against the parents and not children. ‘Please don’t involve children in this,’ he pleaded with them.”

She told them her grandfather served with the police in India as her father does now, and that she was proud to be Indian, she said.

“That angered them, and soon they started beating my mum and both my aunts,” she said.

The Hindu extremists continue to taunt her when she visits her father, a respected officer with the Bihar Military Police, in jail, she said.

“‘Oh! Her dad was caught drunk,’ they say and burst into laughter, and another remarks, ‘No, it is a case of robbery,’” Pariyar said. “I go there daily and pass by the same people, yet they make sure to say something demeaning to hurt me, and I quietly gather myself and move on. That few feet walk from the prison gate to the visiting room is the most burdened one. It takes lots of patience, but I will bear it all because at least I get to meet my dad daily.”

Her 10-year-old brother does not know where his mother and father are, she said.

“I wake him up, get him ready for school, complete the house chores, visit dad at Danapur sub-jail, pick up my brother from school and get back home,” she said. “This has been my routine for the past 10 days.”

Pariyar told Morning Star News that she appeases her brother by telling him that their parents have gone to a prayer meeting.

“He would say, ‘Okay,’ but come back again and would ask me over and over, ‘When will they be back home?’ But I have no answer.”

She requested prayers for the release of her parents and aunt.

“My mum and aunt are kept in the women’s cell, and their rules are very strict,” Pariyar said. “They don’t allow us to meet the inmates. I am glad that I at least get to meet my papa daily.”

Furious, Uncooperative Police

At the Rupaspur police station, the station house officer initially said only that the Christians were accused of “anti-social activities.”

“We received a complaint that the Christian couple are involved in anti-social activities and hence have apprehended them,” Dipak Kumar told Morning Star News.

Asked what exactly the anti-social activities were, Kumar became furious.

“They are abusing Hindu gods and goddesses and are forcefully converting people,” he said.

Asked what kind of “force” they were using, Kumar said, “I filed the FIR [First Information Report] already. No more questions on this.”

He declined to provide a copy of the FIR or disclose the details in it.

Christian advocacy groups flooded the police station in Rupaspur with calls asking him to reveal grounds for the arrest and charges against the Christians, but Kumar remained adamant that “he will drag the Christians to court,” sources said.

Attorney Nisha Singh rushed to the police station to initiate the bail procedure, only to have Kumar refuse to begin the process, Singh said.

“I was accompanied by two other lawyers, but the SHO [Kumar] was very uncooperative,” she said. “There was severe pressure on him by the RSS, Bajrang Dal and ABVP groups.”

He did not allow application for bail, let the families know reasons for the arrest, or issue a copy of the FIR, the attorney said.

“At last he looked at me in rage and said, ‘I filed the charge sheet – see you in court!” Singh told Morning Star News.

The Judicial Magistrate of First Class, Danapur, rejected the plea for bail by the three Christians still in jail on Tuesday morning (May 8). The Hindu mob, led by Nagesh Singh and Deepak Singh, chanted “Jai Sri Ram [Hail Lord Ram]” after the court announced that it rejected bail, Pariyar said.

Attorney Sagar Suman, along with Singh defending the Christians, said police violated procedure as outlined in the Criminal Procedure Code.

“It is the duty of the government to look into the matter, investigate it properly and only then an FIR must be registered,” Suman said. “But in this case, it is simply a matter of hijacking someone’s privacy and violating their constitutional right of freedom to practice a religion of their choice.”

The Indian Constitution grants the fundamental right to practice, profess and propagate one’s faith under Article 25, and that was what Subash Kumar, his family and others were doing within their house, the attorney told Morning Star News.

“All of a sudden the extremist forces forcefully intruded on their privacy, without any permission they entered their house by force, and instead of filing a case against them, the police filed a case against the minority alleging that they [Christians] are spreading ‘communal hatred,’” he said. “It is completely an abuse of the process of law by the police and the lower court.”

A police source who requested anonymity said a local politician is exerting intense pressure to mobilize Hindu extremists.

“There is severe pressure from an elected representative from the area who is now a central minister in [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi’s government,” the source told Morning Star News. “He backs up the youth, encourages them to attack Christians and funds their activities. He just wants to create some sensation, this is their way of expressing loyalty to the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party].”

Abused in Custody

Ravi Singh, nephew of Subash Kumar, told Morning Star News that police had mistreated the Christians while in custody.

SHO Kumar was irritated that so many advocates called asking what was happening, said Ravi Singh, who spent an entire day in police custody.

“He was scolding my uncle, mocking him, saying, ‘Calls are coming from all over India for you today. Even I want to see who can set you free from here.’”

SHO Kumar was doing everything a responsible police officer would not do, he said.

“My mother, Santoshi Devi, was seated on a chair, and the SHO pulled the chair away, and she fell down,” Singh said. “Not just that, Kumar thrashed my uncle, Subash Kumar, several times while he continued ridiculing and mocking him for being a Christian.”

By 8 p.m. the attorney could get only four of the arrested Christians released on bail: Ravi Singh, Suraj Pradhan, Amit Kumar and Santoshi Devi, attorney Nisha Singh told Morning Star News.

A counter-FIR was filed against the assailants only after the judge rejected the bail plea submitted by the Christians.

Fake News

Pariyar said local newspapers published false statements by Hindu extremists that a non-profit her mother heads, the Prerna Foundation Trust, was converting Hindus to Christianity.

“Nobody tried to contact us to find out the truth,” she said. “It is not true; my mother only works for women’s empowerment. She never mixed religion with her work.”

The foundation has been successful in forming self-help groups and micro-enterprises that provide employment to women in Bihar, she added.

Pariyar said that the smile on her jailed father’s face gives her hope.

“My papa always told us that following Christ is not an easy path and that we need to be ready for everything,” she said. “Now I can recall him telling us, ‘There will be suffering, oppression, but we must stand for Christ. Christ, and Christ alone.’”

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist BJP, against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

Indian Pastor beheaded by Hindu extremists in Jharkhand State

Indian Pastor, Abraham Topno beheaded

(Morning Star News) – Maoists took responsibility for the gruesome slaying of a pastor in eastern India (May 1), but area Christians said they suspected Hindu extremists put them up to it.

Abraham Topno, pastor of Pentecostal Church of God, was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Ranchi District, Jharkhand state, who slit his throat and beheaded him, his driver told family members. He was 46.

The body of the pastor, who ministered in the area for more than 20 years, was found with his head severed from his body, and his vehicle was set on fire. Though Maoists appeared to claim responsibility for the killing by leaving a note at the scene saying “Death to police spy,” relatives of the pastor expressed their doubts, saying Hindu extremists likely mobilized Maoists to carry out the execution.

Pastor Topno was ambushed and kidnapped about a half mile from his village of Kubasal while on his way back in a public carrier, a Mahindra truck. About 20-25 unidentified gunmen ambushed the vehicle, dragged the pastor and the driver out and covered their “faces completely with a cloth bag,” reported the driver after returning. The assailants spared the driver.

The pastor’s nephew, Aman Christochit Herenz, told Morning Star News that when his uncle did not return late last night, he left home in search of him on his motorbike.

“They started to talk to my uncle while the driver was made to stand at a distance,” he said, citing the driver, Ranga Singh Munda. “His ears were covered along with his face, so he could not make out their conversation. The Maoists then slit the neck of my uncle and chopped off his head from his body and set the vehicle on fire while not interacting with the driver at all.”

The driver was later told to go, and he reported the crime to Topno’s family.

“From a distance I saw a vehicle on fire, and I could sense something was wrong,” Herenz said. “I know it is a Maoist area and, sensing trouble, I returned home, not knowing that it was the same vehicle that my uncle was riding that was in flames, and my uncle lying dead beside it.”

Pastor Topno and the driver were kidnapped around 5 p.m., and Topno was killed around 9 at night, he said.

“The Maoists have claimed responsibility of killing my uncle stating that he was a ‘police informer,’” said Herenz, who roundly denied the allegations against the pastor.

Pastor Nuas Mundu, senior pastor of the Pentecostal Church of God in Murhu village, Khunti District, about 75 kilometers from Topno’s village, said he too suspected that Hindu extremists were behind the slaying.

“We know that he was a vibrant evangelist, a pioneer missionary, and we suspect that Hindu extremists are behind his killing,” Pastor Mundu said. “Maoists will kill anybody for money, and if someone pays them, they will do the job for them.”

But Shibu Thomas, founder of Persecution Relief, told Morning Star News that Maoists are increasingly targeting Christians.

“In the past Christian missionaries did not have much trouble from the Maoists, but lately it’s seen that they are trying to harass local Christians across Jharkhand and East Godavari jungles,” Thomas said. “We don’t know the reason for the same, but definitely they have also deviated from their ideologies and have political affiliations.”

Topno’s wife of 15 years, Huldah Hareing, was devastated and sought prayer.

The pastor’s body was taken for autopsy this morning, and results are awaited.

On July 29, 2016, Communist Party of India (Maoist) guerrillas known as Naxalites killed pastor Yohan Marayya in East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh, leaving a note near his body stating that he was killed for being “very friendly” with police (an informant), accumulating wealth and “exploiting the poor.” The note also warned that 10 more people would be killed, including six pastors.

Area church leaders, however, said the accusations were untrue, telling Morning Star News that Pastor Marayya was killed for the thriving ministries he and his brothers were carrying out, which threatened the communists’ influence in the area.

Kubasal village is situated in the Tamar Block of Ranchi District, where Pastor Topno’s congregation meets in homes. The headquarter of the Pentecostal Church of God is in Itarsi, Madhya Pradesh.

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

Hard-line Hindu Confesses to Attempted Murder of Pastor in Southern India, Police Say

Pastor Madira Koti Reddy recovering in hospital. (Morning Star News)

India (Morning Star News) – A hard-line Hindu has confessed to attempting to murder a pastor in southern India as the Christian leader was praying at night, according to police.

Pastor Madira Koti Reddy, who leads a house church in Rentachintala village, Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh state, on March 29 had gone to his room to study the Bible and pray at about 10 p.m. after eating dinner with his family, his wife told Morning Star News. Madira Shanti said she was in the backyard with their daughter doing dishes at the time.

At about 10:30 p.m., the assailant stealthily entered the house and went to the 55-year-old pastor’s room, where he slashed his arms and head with an axe, she said.

“I heard my husband screaming and ran into the house,” Shanti told Morning Star News.

With just one light bulb on, she couldn’t see the attacker clearly, but she followed him and saw him standing outside the house with the axe, she said.

“He looked to his right and left and quickly ran away,” Shanti said.

House church pastor Madira Koti Reddy was attacked with an axe. (Morning Star News)

Police Inspector Koteswara Rao was patrolling the area at around 11:30 p.m. when he got word about the attack from villagers and rushed to Pastor Koti Reddy’s house, where he found him bleeding profusely.

“I immediately took him to the government hospital nearby, but given the severity of his condition, shifted him to a private hospital in the neighboring town,” Rao told Morning Star News.

After questioning family members and neighbors, police took 11 suspects into custody, he said. Key eyewitnesses informed them that one suspect, Manne Shiva Narayana, also known as Shivayya, was seen walking outside the pastor’s house with an axe that night.

Officers searched his house, seized the axe and took him into custody, Rao said.

“He is a staunch devotee of Shiva,” one of the principle Hindu deities, the inspector said. “He confessed that he wanted to ‘finish’ the pastor that night. He said he was offended by the pastor’s routine of sharing the gospel in the village.”

Shiva Narayana has deep-seated hatred toward Christianity, Rao said. Though police found no affiliation with any Hindu extremist groups, Shiva Narayana confessed that it was ‘hate’ that drove him to attack the pastor, the police officer said.

Villagers who requested anonymity told Morning Star News that Shiva Narayana is a self-proclaimed Shaiva Sadhu, a Hindu “holy person” identified by orange dress like that of Hindu ascetics known as Aghori. They said he is 34 and single.

He frequently travels to the Mallikarjuna Jyothirlinga temple, dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva and wife Parvati, in Srisailam, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from Rentachintala, villagers said.

“He is very well known in his circles there,” one said.

Pastor Koti Reddy’s son-in-law, John Paul, told Morning Star News that the pastor spoke a few times to the family about the Shaiva Sadhu getting the pastor into religious arguments on faith, and that he requested the family pray for him.

“He was in trouble a couple of times because of boldness in professing Christianity,” he said. “He was several times confronted by people who opposed him distributing gospel tracts, but he never stopped.”

The pastor’s wife said he would write biblical verses on the walls of people’s houses, and that if people objected, he would stop and go away. Inspector Rao said police went to all the places in the village the pastor would visit in a day, and “nobody expressed opposition to the biblical verses on their walls, since this area is mainly dominated by Hindus converted to Roman Catholicism.”

Rao said that, in the jail cell, Shiva Narayana immediately objected to the picture of a cross that an inmate had drawn long ago and asked officers to transfer him to another cell.

“We were able to observe in the Shaiva Sadhu high levels of intolerance,” Rao said. “He did not want to be even physically present in a room where a cross is drawn on the wall.”

Shiva Narayana was charged with attempted murder, punishable by imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine, with the possibility of imprisonment for life.

Loss of Blood

Pastor Koti Reddy was unconscious when he was brought to the hospital, Dr. Sudheer Bhargava Reddy told Morning Star News.

“If he had been brought in 30 minutes later, we would not have been able to save him,” he said.

At least twelve units of blood were intravenously transfused into Pastor Koti Reddy’s body, Bhargava Reddy told Morning Star News.

“The loss of blood was excessive,” he said. “We first attended to the cuts, and there was urgent need for blood transfusion. He is responding well to the treatment, and as the blood clots clear up, we are operating on him.”

Surgery on Friday (April 6) to repair the pastor’s right arm was successful, and the same operation, involving plates and screws, will take place this week on his left arm, Bhargava Reddy told Morning Star News.

“It would take at least 45 days for the patient to move his hand, and in order to be able to use his hand very well, he needs to rest for at least 75 days,” he said.

He said that a CAT scan shows no major damage to the pastor’s head, and that his frequent headaches can be minimized with medicines and rest.

Pastor Koti Reddy’s wife said God allowed him to live.

“God did not let the blows be very hard and heavy,” she said. “God lifted him up and held him in His hands safe. This attack is only to bring glory to God.”

The couple’s children were deeply disturbed to see their father’s condition at the hospital, Shanti said.

“I am trying to be strong for them,” she said.

The member of the Legislative Assembly from Guntur West, Phillip C. Tocher, visited the pastor and his family in the hospital on Tuesday (April 3). After doctors briefed him on the pastor’s condition, he told the family that the ruling Telugu Desam Party would pay all the expenses for treatment, they said.

Evil Spirits

Originally from Giddalur in Prakasam District, Pastor Koti Reddy moved to Rentachintala village 20 years ago with his wife and children, where he now leads a house church.

“My husband comes from a Hindu family whose house was less a home to live in than like a temple or a dwelling place for Hindu deities and devotees,” Shanti said. “Their family would host several pujas [prayer rituals] and yaagas [ritual offerings] every year, and he was totally involved in idol worship.”

When ill in his youth, he was subject to a shaman’s “tricks,” she said, but he was completely healed after receiving prayer at a Christian church service. Having been freed of evil spirits, she said, he devoted himself completely to Christ, and “it was then through a pastor my parents fixed my marriage with him.”

The couple moved from Krishna District to Rentachintala village after Pastor Koti Reddy told his wife that God was calling him to serve there, she said.

“He saw Rentachintala in a vision God gave him when he prayed about his calling,” she said. “The village was exactly how he described it to me.”

The pastor bicycled around the village sharing the gospel, she said.

“He distributes gospel tracts, and if people show interest, he would have deeper discussions with them, and pray with them even on the road,” Shanti said.

The pastor habitually began his days at 5 a.m. and would spend at least three hours in the morning on his knees worshipping the Lord, she said.

“In my 25 years of marriage, I had never seen him picking fights or arguing with anyone,” she said. “As our boys grew up, several times when they would get into fights with their friends, and their parents came to complain, he would accept that it was his sons who were wrong.”

The family requested prayer for healing for the pastor and strength for them.

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

Hindu Extremists in Eastern India Attack Christians Coming Off Bus

Prayer service of a native ministry whose workers were attacked by Hindu extremists in Bihar state, India. (GEMS)

(Morning Star News) – Christians on their way to a recent Christian camp in eastern India shared the purpose of their trip with fellow bus passengers, not realizing one of them was a Hindu extremist.

He began to argue about conversion with the Christians, mostly women and children, including a native missionary from a ministry based in India. Soon the hard-line Hindu began cursing and accusing the Christians of “always converting innocent and poor villagers.”

When they arrived at the bus station in Bettiah, Bihar state, on Feb. 26, after the 60-kilometer (38-mile) trip from Bagaha, 60 to 70 angry Hindu extremists were waiting for them. The hard-line Hindu had made phone calls to Hindu nationalist groups.

The mob separated out the native missionary for the Gospel Echoing Missionary Society (GEMS), D. Joseph, as well as another Christian, Baldev Singh, and assaulted them, said the Rev. Mariosh Joseph, coordinator of GEMS in Bihar.

He said D. Joseph sustained several internal injuries and was hospitalized in a state of deep shock, and that Singh also was hospitalized with multiple injuries, including internal damage to his ear that caused some loss of hearing.

“It was evident from the mob that it was a pre-planned attack,” Pastor Mariosh Joseph told Morning Star News. “There was a media person present to record and publish the entire episode in the media, along with the Hindu extremist mob.”

The Hindu mob interrogated the Christians, asking them the purpose of their visit, said the GEMS zonal superintendent, identified only as Pastor Palanivelu.

“They told the Christians that they were visiting to lure the innocent and poor villagers with money and benefits and fool them into becoming Christians,” Pastor Palanivelu said.

Native missionary D. Joseph told the mob about the camp and denied their allegations, and the Hindu nationalists began to use foul language as they threatened the Christians, Pastor Palanivelu said.

“Even being in a public place, no one came to their rescue, and passersby were mere spectators as the mob beat both the Christians mercilessly, while the other Christian teammates cried for help,” he told Morning Star News.

Traffic officers heard the commotion and tried to rescue the Christians, but they were overpowered by the mob, he said. Additional police were called to get the situation under control.

“Some of the women got so frightened that they fled the site and returned home from the bus station itself without attending the camp,” he said, adding that at least 11 women from the bus went on to the camp.

Pastor Mariosh Joseph said the mob was trained in the ways of Hindu nationalist violence.

“The right-wing groups are specially instructed to hit in a way that they do not bleed anyone externally, but cause gruesome injuries internally,” he told Morning Star News.

Police Bias

Pastor Mariosh Joseph said police initially told him that they were investigating a complaint of forcible/fraudulent conversion, and that the superintendent of police later told him they were treating it as a case of human trafficking.

“The police in most of the cases are biased and try to see how they can frame the victims, rather than doing the other way around,” he said.

Police recorded the statements of D. Joseph and Singh but refused to file a First Information Report, though a Medico-Legal Case was filed against unknown persons, he said.

The camp took place as planned on Feb. 26-28, Pastor Mariosh Joseph said.

“Though such an incident of violence against the Christian believers happened, the meeting continued, and the people were blessed and inspired by the Word of God,” he said.

GEMS reported 12 incidents of persecution against its native missionaries last year, and since January three such cases have already been reported. GEMS works in five states in India, primarily Bihar.

“Of late there have been a lot of incidents that have been happening against Christian believers,” Pastor Mariosh Joseph said. “Even if there is a disagreement, violence is not a way.”

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution, up from 15th the previous year, and ahead of Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Egypt.

ROME’S COLOSSEUM TO BE LIT RED FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS

The Roman Colosseum Photo: Wikipedia

By Dan Wooding (Assist News)  The Roman Colosseum will be illuminated by red lights later this month to draw attention to the persecution of Christians around the world, and especially in Syria and Iraq.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. the Colosseum will be spotlighted in red, to represent the blood of Christians who have been wounded or lost their lives due to religious persecution, according to Crux.

Simultaneously, in Syria and Iraq, prominent churches will be illuminated with red lights. In Aleppo, the St. Elijah Maronite Cathedral will be lit, and in Mosul, the Church of St. Paul, where this past Dec. 24, the first Mass was celebrated after the city’s liberation from ISIS.

The event, sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) — follows a similar initiative last year, which lit-up London’s Parliament building in red, as well as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris and the cathedral in Manila, Philippines. In 2016, the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome was lit. 

Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACN, told journalists on Feb. 7 that the “illumination [of the Colosseum] will have two symbolic figures: Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian condemned to death for blasphemy and whose umpteenth judgment is expected to revoke the sentence; and Rebecca, a girl kidnapped by Boko Haram along with her two children when she was pregnant with a third.”

“One of the children was killed,” he said, “she lost the baby she was carrying, and then became pregnant after one of the many brutalities she was subjected to by her captors.”

Once she was freed and reunited with her husband, she decided she “could not hate those who caused her so much pain,” Monteduro said. [Read Voice of the Persecuted’s (VOP) report: Held Captive For 2 Years By Boko Haram: Rebecca’s Story and the relief sent to them through VOP’s aid mission, Project 133 Nigeria here.]

Rebecca and family united. Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

Aid to the Church in Need released a biennial report on anti-Christian persecution Oct. 12, 2017, detailing how Christianity is “the world’s most oppressed faith community,” and how anti-Christian persecution in the worst regions has reached “a new peak.”

The report reviewed 13 countries, and concluded that in all but one, the situation for Christians was worse in overall terms for the period 2015-2017 than during the prior two years.

“The one exception is Saudi Arabia, where the situation was already so bad it could scarcely get any worse,” the report said.

China, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria were ranked “extreme” in the scale of anti-Christian persecution. Egypt, India, and Iran were rated “high to extreme,” while Turkey was rated “moderate to high.”

The Middle East was a major focus for the report.

British Parliament lit up in red.

“Governments in the West and the U.N. failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway,” the report said. “If Christian organizations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.”

The exodus of Christians from Iraq has been “very severe.” Christians in the country now may number as few as 150,000, a decline from 275,000 in mid-2015. By spring 2017 there were some signs of hope, with the defeat of the Islamic State group and the return of some Christians to their homes on the Nineveh Plains.

The departure of Christians from Syria has also threatened the survival of their communities in the country, including historic Christian centers like Aleppo, ACN said. Syrian Christians there suffer threats of forced conversion and extortion. One Chaldean bishop in the country estimates the Christian population to be at 500,000, down from 1.2 million before the war.

Many Christians in the region fear going to official refugee camps, due to concerns about rape and other violence, according to the report.

A man prays in a bombed out church in Aleppo.

ACN also discussed the genocide committed in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State and other militants. While ISIS and other groups have lost their major strongholds, ACN said that many Christian groups are threatened with extinction and would likely not survive another attack.

A spokesperson for Aid to the Church in Need, said, “We invite everyone to attend, either in person or in spirit, on February 24, 2018 at around 6 p.m. in Largo Gaetana Agnesi, Rome.”

About the writer: Dan Wooding, 77, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 55 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan has written numerous books, and his most recent reporting trip for ANS was to Kurdistan in Northern Iraq.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

VOP is on the ground helping persecuted Christian refugees from Nigeria and Pakistan. Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope. Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTEDHis Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

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