VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

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Tribal Leaders Join Hands with Hindu Extremists to Persecute Christians in Jharkhand, India

Hindu extremists and tribal animists team up to transform church building into Sarna religion complex in Ranchi District, Jharkhand state, India. (Morning Star News)

India (Morning Star News) – Five families in eastern India were at a worship service last month when they received a phone call telling them to return to their homes immediately.

The Christians rushed nearly four miles from their church in Lisiya village to their homes in Durula, West Singhbhum District in Jharkhand state, where they found the shanty of one of the families in ruins. Villagers under the influence of tribal movement Adivasi Ho Samaj had left the home of Sidiu Bari and his family in shambles.

Members of the Adivasi Ho Samaj, which in turn had come under the influence of Hindu extremists to join forces against the spread of Christianity, persuaded villagers that they must drive the five Christian families out, area resident Subod Sinku told Morning Star News.

“They damaged Bari’s roof, threw away their clothes and utensils and took away a sum of 20,500 rupees [US$280],” Sinku said. “Even after all this, they were not done. There was lot of verbal abuse and verbal grilling that continued for at least a week after the [Oct. 18] incident.”

Threatened with expulsion from the village and with seizure of their farmland, three of the five families converted back to the tribal religion, Sarnaism, he said.

“Pastors and Christians from Lisiya and surrounding village churches tried to encourage them to continue in the Christian faith in these testing times,” Sinku said. “But we were only able to get Sidiu Bari to write a complaint and report the matter to a local police station.”

Police advised against filing a First Information Report (FIR), telling the Christians to try to settle the matter “amicably,” he said.

Another source said on condition of anonymity, “The situation in Jharkhand is turning worse since the Ho Samaj joined hands with the RSS [Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh], holding meetings to instigate the tribal population against their own brethren for choosing to follow Christ.”

Sinku, 25, said that in his home village of Deoghar District, his family has warned him that he will be thrown out of his parents’ home and will not receive his share of land if he continues in his Christian faith.

“Putting faith in Christ is a matter of heart, and gradually as a new convert from the Adivasi religion grows in fellowship with other Christians, one’s entire lifestyle gets transformed,” Sinku said. “You learn many things. You become particular about hygiene, your intake of food, dressing, and you are not afraid to move to the city for education and get a job. This is not how indigenous tribes live. And, they think that we can afford the clothes, food and education from the supposed amount we received because of conversion to Christianity. It is completely false.”

Church Building Converted

In Ranchi District on Oct. 20, Sarna members broke a lock and barged into a church building while Christians were away attending a burial service of a young female member at another site, area residents said.

In the absence of anyone at the church building in Garh Khatanga, Hindu and tribal religion extremists surrounded the structure. Outside elements had instigated the villagers, who joined the extremists in breaking a cross on the building and chanting slogans against Christianity, Pastor Amandeep Bodra told Morning Star News.

Church members heard about the attack but, occupied with comforting family members who had lost a child, they decided not to try to stop them and thus avoided a fight, the pastor said. The next day they reported it to police, who have taken no action, he said.

“The Sarna activists had removed the cross and had set up a signboard saying, ‘Sarna Bhavan[Sarna Complex],’ and the police tell us to compromise with them,” he said.

The church purchased land and constructed its building on it about six months ago, and no one objected, he said. The now 70-member church had begun meeting in 2014.

The tribal animists have put their own lock on the building, which they have not been using, and they do not let the church use it, the pastor said.

“If we also break open the land and claim it back, the situation will get worse,” he said. “Police will not wait long to book severe cases against us, and there will be physical violence against us.”

Church leaders told the village president that they are willing to forfeit the land and requested the official show them another plot for construction of a church building, Pastor Bodra said. They have not heard back from him and are worshipping in a congregation member’s home.

Livelihood Denied

In Surlu village, dozens of RSS members and tribal animists on Oct. 5 met to plan how to punish villagers for becoming Christians.

“The village president agreed to the propaganda put forth by them,” said area resident Nirmal Boraiburu. “Their plans were very harmful. They decided that Christians should not be allowed to go into the open fields to answer the call of nature. How can a human survive in such conditions?”

The Hindu extremists and Adivasis later told the Christians that they can farm their fields, but that they cannot pass through others’ fields to get to their own, Boraiburu said.

“Which means there will not be a path for us to walk to our field,” he said. “How can we plough or grow a crop when we can’t even enter the field? The entire village joined hands against us that nobody would give us work. But what prompted us to vacate the village was that some women made an announcement that now that these Adivasis have converted to Christians, they are no longer our tribe’s, and that Adivasi men are free to rape Christian women.”

The Christians have fled to Odisha state, Boraiburu said

“The pastor and believers here helped us build some huts to take shelter,” he said. “There in Surlu, women are usually alone at home after men go to work; it is not safe anymore. My two sisters are pursuing their studies, and dad works, in Chaibasa District. I left the property and everything in Surlu for their safety.”

As a handful of Christians among the majority Sarna adherents, they would have risked provoking the entire Adivasi community against them by reporting them to police, he said.

Christians Framed

Earlier in Bokaro District, Hindu extremists used an elderly, bed-ridden man to give a false police statement of forcible conversion against Christians, sources said.

The ordeal began when pastor Sikandar Ravidas received a phone call from a police inspector telling him to bring documents related to church construction, on the request of revenue authorities.

Pastor Ravidas went to the police station near Lal Mithiya village, along with his father, Mahabir Das, and Binod Ravidas. There the inspector insisted they go with him to Chandrapura police station, said the pastor’s uncle, Manoj Ravidas.

“We received a phone call after he was taken into custody in Chandrapura,” Manoj Ravidas said. “He called us saying to pick up the documents, as they are being sent to jail the next day. After reaching the police station, we learned that police wanted to frame Binod Ravidas, former president of Lal Mithiya, in a case.”

A village official who is a staunch supporter of the RSS and the Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata Party used the elderly Mani Ravidas to give a false statement to police that Christians were involved in forced in conversions, Manoj Ravidas told Morning Star News.

“The complainant, Mani Ravidas, is a bed-ridden old man,” he said, adding that the official obtained his thumb prints to sign an FIR against Binod Ravidas. “He brought the pastor into picture to make the case stronger under the state’s anti-conversion laws.”

Eight Christians, including the pastor, Ajay Ravidas, Lakhi Devi, Hiralal Shaw, Motilal Shaw, Robert Edward, were booked on Sept. 26 under Section 298 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for wounding religious feelings, and under Section 4 of Jharkhand’s “Freedom of Religion Act” (anti-conversion law). Under the law, forcible conversion can be punished with up to four years of prison and a fine of 100,000 rupees (US$1,370).

“Pastor Ravidas’ wife and their 3-year-old are now under the protection of believers in Lal Mithiya village,” Manoj Ravidas said. “Even their own relatives can’t meet her or provide any sort of help as, the official might plot against them as well. He has a criminal history.”

Ajay Ravidas was taken into custody after he tried to report Hindu extremists chasing him on motorbikes, Manoj Ravidas said.

“He went to the police station to report against the bikers, but police arrested him instead,” Manoj Ravidas said. “He discovered in the police station that he also has been booked in the same FIR filed on Sept. 26.”

The initial judge and an additional district judge have rejected bail petitions.

“We are urging the church members to be united and strong, but they are very upset that the pastor has been in jail for more than 40 days now,” he said.

The coordinator of legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India’s Jharkhand unit, Sandeep Tigga, said it is sad that lower courts refuse to take cases booked under the anti-conversion law, so the file gets passed to appellate courts, where matters remain in litigation for so long.

“Christians avoid taking legal course of action in most cases as they fear revenge attacks from extremist groups,” Tigga added. “Most of the Christian youth are the first generation getting into education, and they don’t want court cases to be an impediment to their studies, and even if they take a courageous step to report, police advise them to settle with the help of a village council.”

ADF-India organizes sessions for pastors, youth leaders and Christians in Jharkhand to make them aware of their rights and provisions in the law, Tigga said. ADF undertakes legal advocacy for religious freedom in several countries.

The group notes in its campaign celebrating the 70th anniversary of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it is sadly ironic that Christians are persecuted in India, a country with a long tradition and legal framework of freedom of religion. Article 18 of the U.N. declaration asserts that believers have the freedom to practice their faith “in teaching, practice, worship and observance,” ADF notes in its campaign to obtain signatures supporting the Geneva Statement on Human Rights at www.ImHumanRight.org.

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 Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

 

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Persecution of Christians Radiates Outward from Hub in Northern India, Sources Say

Christians who obtained bail after being jailed on Sept. 11 in Pratapgarh District, Uttar Pradesh on false charges of forcible conversion. Photo: Morning Star News

“Incidents of violence and hate targeting Christians have risen to a never-before level in Uttar Pradesh,”

(Morning Star News) – Attacks on Christians that began in one area of Uttar Pradesh in July have spiked and spread, instilling fear in congregations throughout the state, sources said.

After several attacks in Jaunpur District in July, by the end of October persecution of Christians had spread to 32 of Uttar Pradesh’s 75 districts, rights activist Dinanath Jaiswar told Morning Star News, with some of those districts seeing assaults earlier in the year.

“Jaunpur District has emerged as the epicenter of violence against the Christian community,” Jaiswar said. “The frequency and intensity of the incidents took us by surprise. There were days when at least two or three incidents would be reported from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, and we would struggle on how to provide help to hapless Christians.”

Many pastors went into hiding since July, though in many cases their congregations were able to keep meeting, and all of the church leaders have since returned home, sources said.

“Many a time we have had to divide our team or call more people, just so we could stand with the people who were being targeted and arbitrate with the authorities for their release,” Jaiswar said.

“There is a sense of fear in the atmosphere,” a Christian leader said. “Which church would be attacked, and when, is a constant threat in the hearts of the pastors of Uttar Pradesh.”

Persecution of Christians in Jaunpur District spread like wildfire to nearby districts, making Uttar Pradesh the state with the most violence against Christians since January, rights activists said.

“Incidents of violence and hate targeting Christians have risen to a never-before level in Uttar Pradesh,” said the Rev. Vijayesh Lal, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) and national director of EFI’s Religious Liberty Commission. “Whereas there were 50 incidents that were documented in the state of Uttar Pradesh last year as a whole, this year till [the end of] October we have already documented 64 incidents.”

September and October were among the worst months for aggression against Christians in the state, he said. EFI-RLC recorded 28 cases in September and 16 in October in Uttar Pradesh.

Since January, violence has broken out against Christians in districts of Azamgarh, Gorakhpur, Ghazipur, Kaushambi, Allahabad, Bareilly, Meerut, Agra, Lucknow, Mahoba, Mau, Pratapgarh, Varanasi, Kannauj, Pilibhit, Ghaziabad, Muzzafarnagar, Lakhimpur, Fatehpur, Raebareli, Sitapur, Meerut, Mirzapur, Hapur, Barabanki, Siddharth Nagar, Kanpur, Khushinagar, Gautam Budh Nagar and Kannauj, along with Jaunpur.

“It is a fact that the Christians living in the most populous state of India, Uttar Pradesh, are facing heightened fear of threat to their lives for practicing their faith,” said A.C. Michael, national coordinator of minority affairs for the All India Catholic Union (AICU).

Pastors were routinely taken into police custody based on false allegations of forceful religious conversion, he said.

“In one such case, on Sept. 13, a Christian who was leading a prayer meeting was beaten up and warned of severe consequences if he continued to pray,” Michael said. “Christians in Jaunpur are in great fear of being attacked and are not even conducting prayers in their own homes.”

Police deliberately approached pastors’ homes late at night to harass them and their families, said a source who requested anonymity.

“Picking up pastors and Christian leaders after midnight, keeping them in police custody for 24 hours, is a technique to mentally harass them and to instill fear in them,” the source told Morning Star News.

Attacks on Christians in India have risen from 150-plus in 2014 to more than 250 already in 2018, according to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which undertakes legal advocacy for religious freedom.

“What should worry the Christian community, especially its leadership, is that out of three democratic pillars of India, both government and media are ignoring these seemingly systematic attacks on Christians,” an ADF press statement reads.

The third pillar, the judiciary, has more than 200 cases of false allegations of forcible conversion pending in various courts of India, including the Supreme Court, it adds.

Epicenter

The Hindu extremist targeting of churches started from the Bhulandih village, Jaunpur District, where pastor Durga Prasad Yadav leads the Jeevan Jyoti Satsang Prarthana Kendra (Light of Life Fellowship Prayer Centre).

Police also targeted Pastor Yadav, summoning and beating him in June. Between 7,000 to 8,000 people regularly attend his church services, according to reports.

On July 20, news portal jantakiawaz.org reported in Hindi that 95 percent of households in a Jaunpur village had become Christian. A subtitle read, “Christian missionaries running their campaign quietly but effectively. Conversions happening in the name of prayer…”

The portal updated the content the next day, and national Hindi newspaper Dainik Jaagran and other portals carried the same news.

On Aug. 3, an Additional Civil Judge in Pancham ordered registration of a complaint against Pastor Yadav and 270 other Christians. For Sunday services on Aug. 5, police provided protection from Hindu threats on his church at the pastor’s request.

Police on Sept. 5 registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Pastor Yadav and the 270 others based on the complaint by attorney Brijesh Singh. Christian leaders said that the police started to visit many area churches, questioning pastors, other Christians and whoever they could find on church premises.

Sources indicated that police began the harassment only after state officials became involved. Superiors at the Chandwak police station even removed a police officer, Shashi Chandra Chaudhry, from the Bhulandih village case for failing to act against Pastor Yadav and other Christians, according to local news outlets.

Meantime, news channels led by Zee TV created a furor with nearly 24-hour reporting on alleged forcible conversions in the Jaunpur area on Sept. 10-11. Christian leaders have slammed the coverage by Zee TV as inflammatory.

Between Sept. 11 and the end of the month, police arrested and detained many pastors, disrupted worship services and told people to go home and not attend anymore.

At the same time, Hindu extremists were targeting churches throughout the region, disrupting services and attacking Christians not only in Jaunpur but also other districts in Uttar Pradesh. Many pastors began to go into hiding.

Police Prohibit Services, Attendance

There are at least 10 megachurches in Jaunpur District alone, with about 25,000 people attending worship services, sources said.

“About six megachurches that were targeted by the police in Jaunpur are permanently closed since the initial attack,” rights activist Jaiswar said. “They have been asked to obtain permission from the district magistrate or High Court to resume church services.”

Pastors who had been in hiding since the attacks in September have all returned home, he said.

The largest megachurch, with 7,000 members, is that of Pastor Durga Prasad Yadav in Bhulandih village, Jaunpur, which has been shut down.

“I have not conducted church for two months now,” Pastor Yadav said. “Police are guarding our worship places morning and evening to stop any believer from coming to church. The situation here is very tense.”

Police issued an arrest warrant against Pastor Yadav, but he secured a stay order against it from the High Court on Oct. 10. He said he is desperately waiting for justice and permission for his church to resume services.

Hindu extremists on Sept. 23 attacked pastor Ashok Rajbhar, who leads a church of about 2,000 members in Nevadiya village, Jaunpur District. Though police have not registered a case against him, officers stopped worshippers from reaching church services on four consecutive Sundays, sources said.

For the next two Sundays, police arrested and locked up Pastor Rajbhar and his father to keep them from leading services, they said. His church is completely shut down.

Police on Sept. 24 arrested pastor Nanhe Lal of Jaunpur. Though they did not register a case against him, officers obtained a pledge in writing from him that he would not lead services until he obtains permission from the district magistrate or High Court.

Police secured the same pledge in writing from Pastor Ram Asre of Badlapur, Jaunpur District, threatening to arrest him if he led worship for his 1,000-member church. Pastor Ram Bachan received several threats before police booked him under various charges alleging forceful conversion. He obtained bail on Oct. 30, but his 500-member church has shut down.

Police also have registered a case against pastor Ram Kumar of Pratapgarh District on various charges. He has filed for a stay against the FIR in the Lucknow High Court, but his church has closed.

After these churches were forced to shut down, the members began meeting in small groups in their homes. Sources said police patrolled outside their homes and stopped them from meeting.

Christian leaders said that all churches in Uttar Pradesh are stricken with fear from reports every day of attacks on churches.

“The Christian community in Uttar Pradesh is under duress, and there is a sense of fear in the atmosphere,” a Christian leader from Uttar Pradesh told Morning Star News. “Which church would be attacked, and when, is a constant threat in the hearts of the pastors of Uttar Pradesh.”

ADF notes in its campaign celebrating the 70th anniversary of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it is sadly ironic that Christians are persecuted in India, a country with a long tradition and legal framework of freedom of religion.

Article 18 of the U.N. declaration asserts that believers have the freedom to practice their faith “in teaching, practice, worship and observance,” ADF notes in its campaign to obtain signatures supporting the Geneva Statement on Human Rights at www.ImHumanRight.org.

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.

INDIA – Trial for seven innocent Christians: appeal for their release

It is urgent to speed up the judicial process which sees seven innocent Christians of Kandhamal, a district in the Indian state of Orissa, in prison. The seven have been languishing in jail because of the false accusation of the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati , the Hindu leader killed by the Maoists in 2008. This is what the Delhi Minorities Committee (DMC) asks for, which has produced and published a documentary film in Hindi entitled “Kaid mein Bekasoor” (Innocents imprisoned). As reported to Agenzia Fides, the documentary was produced by journalist Anto Akkara who has been spearheading a campaign for the release of the seven innocents.

“It is shocking to know about the plight of these innocents languishing in jail for the last 10 years. It should concern the whole nation”, said Zafarul-Islam Khan, President of the Committee for Minorities. “Our mandate is to speak up for the voiceless and minorities. That is why the Commission decided to host this programme to spread awareness about the shocking injustice to the Christian minorities”, he stressed.
“It is a shame for Indian democracy and judicial system that the seven innocents – six of them illiterates – are in jail to perpetuate a political fraud”, urged Akkara, who made 27 trips to remote Kandhamal jungles villages and authored the nationally acclaimed book “Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?” that has now been translated into Hindi and Malayalam.

Akkara has been anchoring an online signature campaign for the release of the innocents on www.release7innocents.com. Each signature on this website generates four instant emails to the Chief Justice of India, President of India, NHRC chairman and the Odisha High Court .
“It is time for everyone to come together to fight for law and justice and adequate compensation for the victims of the 2008 anti-Christian violence” said Father Kulokant Dandasena, a Catholic priest who works for the survivors in Kandhamal. “Seven innocent people in prison is a shame for a secular and democratic country like India”, he added.

“We are taking up this case to awaken the minorities and others to massive injustice to innocent people”, said Advocate Sister Anastasia Gill, a lawyer and member of the DMC. “This is the moment for all the minorities to join hands together and challenge the forces that are trying to divide people in the name of religion”, she concluded.

‘Innocents Imprisoned’ – Kandhamal’s Travesty of Justice

Innocents Imprisoned is a documentary on the Hindu nationalist fraud & travesty of justice in Kandhamal jungles (of Odisha state in India) with seven innocent Christians including a mentally challenged illiterate languishing in jail for nearly 10 years due to the subversion of the judicial system. This documentary – visual presentation of the investigative book, ‘Who killed Swami Laxmanananda?’ launched on August 23, 2018 in New Delhi on the 10th anniversary of Kandhamal.

Speak up for these voiceless by signing the online petition for their release at link above.

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

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.)

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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

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

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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.

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