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Persecution Watch: Praying for Believers in India

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Saturday August 7, 2021 in a conference prayer call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.

INDIA: approximately 1.3 billion people, 80% or more are Hindu. Many desire to make Hindu a state religion.

Government is supposed to be a democracy with freedom of religion, but since Prime Minister Modi came to power in 2014, persecution against Christians has increased dramatically and is getting worse. Many states have passed draconian anti conversion laws. The newest prohibit “coerced or fraudulent” conversion, and anyone desiring conversion must notify the authorities or face up to 10 years in prison and large fines.  Even praying or preaching in public can be “forced conversions “.  Police reject complaints and sometimes arrest the victims at the testimony of false witnesses.

The Hindu Nationalist extremist group RSS is the main persecutor. Since the government rarely does anything to stop them, they feel they have liberty to beat Christians, burn churches, and even murder. There are informers in almost every village who police their villages against Christians. More and more pastors and workers have been arrested and often jailed on false accusations.

Although India does not restrict Bibles, they are unaffordable for those in severe poverty in Muslim and Hindu controlled areas. Also, many in rural areas are illiterate and/or remote from places where they are available.

Foreign organizations trying to support human rights have been expelled since the new government and local organizations are pressured to stop.

Human rights are not a priority with the USA because of concerns with China, Iraq, Afghanistan and Russia.  I believe most other Nations are very concerned either.

  • Pray for Prime Minister Modi and other state and local leaders:  softening of hearts toward Christians; for their salvation; dreams and visions of Yeshua.
  • Pray for freedom of religion would become a reality.
  • Pray that lies of false accusations be exposed; pray against lying spirit.
  • Pray for justice for Christians who have been beaten, houses destroyed, etc.
  • Pray that Christians would be able to forgive their persecutors.
  • Pray for access to the Word, through NGOs, internet, story tellers, or any other creative ways.
  • Pray for strength and perseverance for pastors, apostles and any others preaching the Gospel; for their health and provision.

Isaiah 52:7 “how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them that bring the good news”

  • Pray for new converts facing persecution.  One report says ceremonies welcoming them back to Hinduism are becoming more common.
  • Pray the church will grow in faith.
  • Pray for the many widows whose husbands have been martyred.
  • Pray for the NGOs.
  • Pray Adonai will build His church in India.

Valerie, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

USA Time Zone:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in 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

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

What is Persecution Watch?

Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.

Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.

“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.

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

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.

We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.

Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Christian Families Driven into Jungles of Eastern India

Photo: Christians driven from their homes in Rayagada District, Odisha state, India. – Morning Star News

(Morning Star News) – Tribal animists forced more than 50 Christians from three villages to flee their homes and take shelter in the jungles of eastern India last month.

The Christians belong to 13 tribal families of Rayagada District, Odisha state who have been stranded in the jungle without proper shelter, food, water and electricity.

“It is the rainy season now, and we fear the sickness that comes with rainfall, the poisonous insects and the unhygienic conditions we are living in,” Nori Kanjaka of Sikarpai village told Morning Star News.

Five Christian families fled Kotlanga village on June 7 after receiving threats. They took the threats seriously as villagers who practice traditional religion in Sikarpai, 20 miles away, on May 23 had destroyed the roofs of the homes of six Christian families, looted their belongings and beat them, driving them into the jungle, victims said.

The villagers in Kotlanga had threatened to assault the five Christian families and prevented them from building their roofs. Opposition was so fierce, according to sources, that the Christians had to flee to the jungle to avoid attack on the night of June 7 and joined the Sikarpai Christians who were already sheltering in there.

Tribal animists in other area villages are driving out Christians, Kanjaka said.

“After the villagers in the other villages heard of how we were chased from our village, they too have forced Christians living among them to leave the village, either by threats or by physically attacking them or by illtreating them,” Kanjaka told Morning Star News from the jungle.

Two families from Chichinga village were also forced to take shelter in the jungle. There are now 57 men, women and children there living in shelters of used polyethene sheets and wood, Kanjaka said.

Besides Sikarpai, Kotlanga and Chichinga, Christians of three other villages – Siripai, Kona and Tongapai, also in Rayagada District – have also faced opposition and ostracization, said area pastor Upajukta Singh.

Police Suggest Renouncing Christ

Despite registering several complaints with police, the Christians continue to face opposition, and officers have done little to protect them, victims and Christian leaders said.

Christians registered complaints on May 10 and March 15 at the Singhpur police station.

“A FIR [First Information Report] has been registered in two cases, but the Christians in all these villages continue to face opposition for their faith,” Pastor Singh said.

Christians have also notified block and district administrations of the attacks without receiving any assistance, they said. Authorities told Christians they must renounce Christ to resolve the conflict, sources said.

“They [officials] told us that you step back, deny your Christian faith and come back to your tribal fold, only then peace will return. What is the use of such a faith?” said one of the victims who requested anonymity.

Christians who reported the May 25 attack to local police said the officer in charge and the sub-collector visited the Christians in the jungle on Tuesday (June 22).

“They told us to go back to the village and live with the villagers, perform their rituals and worship the deities they worship,” Rupa Kanjaka said. “We have been asked not to conduct our prayers.”

Refusal to Resolve Conflict

Pastor Prakash Bhatra, a senior Christian leader and a member of the Odisha Pastor’s Association, told Morning Star News that attacks began in November 2020, when two Christian families from Chiching village were forced out of their homes for praying.

Villagers took their belongings from their homes and burned them, he said.

“The two Christian families are living outside the village and could not return to their homes,” Pastor Bhatra said.

In Sikarpai village, high-caste Hindus prevented a marriage ceremony in a Christian home. They told the Christians not to hold any weddings and kept them from drawing water from the only village tube-well.

“We had to struggle to obtain water for the marriage preparations, Sikarpai resident Nori Kanjaka told Morning Star News. “We decided to walk a few miles and fetch water from a neighboring village. On March 13, when two girls from our family had gone to fetch water in the evening, three men sexually molested them. They tore their clothes and attempted to rape them, but some of our men reached them in time and rescued them.”

After Christians on March 15 registered an FIR about the attack at the Singhpur police station, villagers threatened to drive the Christians from the village, Nori Kanjaka said.

Christians praying together on May 23 were interrupted by the local tribal animists, she said.

“The villagers said that their deities live in the village, and our prayers were causing disturbance to their deities,” Nori Kanjaka said. “So, they said that they cannot let us live in the village – we must carry on with our prayers outside the village.”

The tribal village men beat the Christians, and then they sent the women of their homes to dismantle the roofs of the Christians’ homes.

“If the men would have done this, the police would have taken action against them, so it is safer to send women, because the police will just spare them,” Rupa Kanjaka said.

The women climbed the roof of each home and removed the rooftop tiles so that six Christian families had no shelter and had to flee, he said.

“The women told us to leave the village immediately, or we would be killed,” Rupa Kanjaka said. “There are pictures and videos that we shot while the women dismantled our roofs.”

The men looted the homes of the Christians and carried away all their domestic animals, said Pastor Bhatra.

When the Christians approached the village elders and headman to request peace talks, the elders told them to leave the area, saying Christian prayers disturbed their deities, Rupa Kanjaka said.

“We picked up everything that was left in our homes and moved to the jungle,” he said.

On May 29, the Rayagada deputy collector, sub-divisional officer of police and the station officer in charge met with the headman of Sikarpai village to initiate peace talks, Pastor Bhatra said.

“But the villagers refused to settle the matter,” he said.

Christian leaders wrote an application signed by all family heads in the jungle and sent it by post to the director general of police, collector, chief secretary and various high officials, he said.

Attorney Samuel Tandi told Morning Star News that the villagers and the Christians have been summoned before the executive magistrate under Section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for “security for keeping peace.” A case was registered against 10 Christians and six villagers, and they were required to present themselves before the executive magistrate to sign a “peace bond” before the magistrate, Tandi said.

When the magistrate summoned both parties on June 17, the Christians appeared, but the six animist villagers were absent, he said.

“The court has ordered again for the six villagers to present themselves and will summon the Christians once again, if need be,” Tandi said.

He emphasized that these Christians were not recent converts but had been following Christ for 14 years.

“If they [villagers] had problem with prayers, then why did they not oppose them earlier?” Tandi said. “Why is it that it is only in the past year that they have suddenly started to express their displeasure? It is evident that someone is instigating them, and thus this sudden opposition.”

In Siripai village, police intervention led to peace talks between the Christians and the followers of tribal religion, sources said, while in Kona village, Christians had to leave their farmland. Villagers there told them to abandon their faith in order to continue farming.

“They incurred a huge loss of land and all the grain that they had sown on the land,” Pastor Bhatra said. “They had tilled the soil but had to just abandon it, and the persecutors enjoyed the harvest.”

In Tongapai village, outsiders came and instigated villagers to assault Christians living there, the pastor said. The police intervened to carry out peace talks that resolved the conflict, he said.

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 10th on Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, as it was in 2020. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position worsened after Modi came to power.

URGENT Prayer Call for INDIA

5/07/2021 (Voice of the Persecuted) Dear Prayer Warriors, you are invited to join us on Friday, May 07 in an URGENT prayer conference call for India hosted by Persecution Watch. 

Pray for:

The Lord to be merciful and stop the spreading of the coronavirus.

For the Lord to stretch out His healing hand.

For the Christians to reach out to the sick and lost.

That the pandemic will turn many people to seek Christ. Pray for a great harvest.

For more nations to send vaccines and medications.

Abundant blessings,

Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Friday, May 7, 2021

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in 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

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

Image: YouTube screenshot – India Today

Persecution Watch: Praying for Believers in India

1/21/2021 (Voice of the Persecuted) India Population: 1.4 billion, Christians: 66.2 million

In August 2017, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) ranked India’s persecution severity at “Tier 2” along with Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past seven years, India has risen from No. 31 to No. 10 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, ranking just behind Iran in persecution severity. In April, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom requested that the U.S. State Department name India as a “country of particular concern” because of Christian persecution -attacks.

Some government leaders now refer to India as HINDUSTAN, the land of the Hindus. They actively try to purify Hindustan by making the whole nation Hindu, no room for Christians.

Hate crimes against Christians in India, including instances of murder, rape, and arson, have risen by 40 per cent in the first half of 2020, according to a new report. The report, by campaigning group, Persecution Relief, noted that the “disconcerting” rise has taken place in spite of a three-month national lockdown.

Several charities identify state cooperation with extremists as a key problem. Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist party, won the general election in 2014, Christian commentators have claimed the government, particularly at a local level, has been unwilling to clamp down on extremist Hindus.  According to Persecution Relief, between January 2016 and June 2020, there have been 2,067 crimes inspired by religious intolerance against Christians in India.

And as increasing numbers of Dalits become Christians, more states in India are reacting by passing anti-conversion laws, which, believes Paul Robinson, ‘will pave the way for further violence.’

The latest state to legislate against freedom of faith is Uttarakhand. Christians there who share their faith could face a jail sentence of up to five years. The new law requires clergy leading a person to Christ to give one month’s notice, which will trigger a police investigation into the proposed conversion. And individuals wanting to change their religion must first get permission from the state government. Similar anti-conversion laws are in force in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand, and are pending elsewhere. Significantly, there have also been moves to impose anti-conversion legislation that would be binding across the whole of India.

The law legislates against ‘forced conversion’. On the face of it, this may sound reasonable. But the law is wide open to abuse. Any warning of judgement could be considered a threat, and the promise of heaven as an inducement. And Christian charitable works could be portrayed as a form of bribery.

Hindu radicals have made death threats against Christians in Uttarakhand and have ordered them to close their churches. Acts of intimidation are reported on an almost daily basis.

 Prayer Points

  • Pray that the Lord will touch president Narenda Modi and his government officials and convict them of their anti-Christian actions and give religious freedom.

 

  • Pray to the Lord that He will protect His believers from the many active as well as proposed ant conversion laws. That the laws will prove to be ineffective to spread the good news

 

  • Pray that Christians will not be excluded from COVID-19 relieve. The pandemic is used as a new weapon for persecutors. Many Christians are often deliberately overlooked when official COVID-19 food and aid are distributed. This has left many desperate for food, particularly since many Christians are from the Dalit caste and thus very poor and have lost their sources of income this year.

 

  • Pray that the Lord will protect Open Doors and the many other NGOs who works through local church partners to strengthen the Indian church through providing emergency aid.

 

  • Pray for the Rapid Response teams that are often first on the scene after violent attacks, persecution survival training, Bibles, livelihood and community development programs, advocacy support and legal training trauma counseling.

 

  • Pray that the Lord will make seeing eyes blind when pastors and missionaries are faced with India’s immigration officers.

 

  • Pray for protection for our brothers and sisters, especially those who are new Christians from Hindu background, and those who live in rural areas and are particularly isolated. Pray God will help their families and communities to accept their new faith.
  • Pray for easy access to the internet and that both believers and Hindus will see messages that encourage and or convict them.

 

  • Praise God that many are coming to faith in India through miraculous healings and the courageous witness of India’s Christians. Pray this will continue, and many more will come to know Jesus.

Pray the Lord will enable Christians to forgive their persecutors.

Pray against the forces of darkness and that in spite of their efforts the church will continue to expand rapidly.

Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses to the Lord:

  • Leah Sharibu and Alice, prisoners of Boko Haram, pray that they will be set free.
  • Pray pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
  • Pray for Anita, a Christian convert persecuted for her faith in Iran.

You are invited to join us on Thursday, January 21 in a prayer call for the persecuted church.

Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in 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

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.

The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.

With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.

Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.

If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Hindu Nationalists Incite Animists to Attack Christians in India

Church structure demolished in Chichima village, Rayagada District, Odisha State on Dec. 13, 2020. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – Six Christian families were worshipping in a wood-and-hay structure in eastern India last month when an influential man of wealth wielding an axe led others in and, in coarse language, asked why they had abandoned their tribal religion.

Elder Burjo Tadinji of the church in Odisha state’s Chichima village, answered, “We have known the true living God; we will not leave him. We used to indulge in fights and speak lies, but we do not do all that now. We like this faith, and that is why we follow it.”

Outraged, the leader of the mob of 20-25 men from three different villages began swinging the axe on the church structure, according to pastor Bibudhan Pradhan, who normally leads the small congregation of 15 but was absent that day (Dec. 13).

“They manhandled the Christians, damaged [an adjacent] Christian home, and broke the thatched structure with the axe,” Pastor Pradhan, 48, told Morning Star News. “They threatened to chase them out of their homes and the village if they reported the matter to the police.”

The mob joined in, and soon the church structure was reduced to pieces, with Tadinji’s adjoining home also damaged. They tore the clothes of one Christian and with a stone broke the mobile phone of another Christian recording the attack, Pastor Pradhan said.

The mob leader, whose name is withheld to protect area Christians, then warned them not to report the attack to police, church elder Tadinji said.

“If the police come, we will not let you live in the village and we will chase you away,” he said, according to Tadinji.

The Christians present were all converts from animistic tribal religion. The animist assailants were trained and incited by Hindu nationalists, sources said.

Pastor Pradhan established the church in Chichima, a remote mountain village in Rayagada District, five years ago. The land on which the structure was built belongs to Tadinji.

“Though I insisted that we file a complaint, the villagers fear the repercussions and refuse to risk losing their birth-village,” Pastor Pradhan said.

Tadinji said the Christians delivered a written complaint of the assault to the village head.

“He said, ‘I will deal will this’ but did nothing,” Tainji said. “He too fears the influential man.”

‘Hinduization’ of Tribals

Members of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are visiting area villages and appointing leaders, sources said.

RSS members usually identify a tribal villager with leadership qualities and a strong physique, train him in influential speaking, and task him with propagating the idea that the tribal people are Hindus even if they practice the animistic rituals of their ancestors. In every village in Rayagada District, a source who requested anonymity said, Hindu nationalists have placed an image of the Hindu deity Shiva.

Pastor Pradhan said all the villagers are told to sacrifice a chicken to Shiva every year.

“It is in the tribal culture to offer a sacrifice of a chicken while buying land, planting seed, harvesting the land, and other occasions,” he told Morning Star News. “When someone in their homes has fever or illness, they sacrifice a chicken to please the god of nature. They seldomly visit hospitals – only in emergencies. They often visit the witch doctor, who again demands them to perform sacrifice.”

Sukanta Naik, a volunteer for the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) who has travelled to Odisha for 40 years, said Hindu nationalist groups have become very active in indoctrinating tribal people. Hindu nationalists increasingly try to drive a wedge between tribal peoples and Christians, persuading villagers that those who have left their beliefs and other rituals have betrayed their ancestors, gods, and the country of India.

The Hindu nationalists then obtain tribal support for political candidates and policies and introduce Hindu beliefs and practices into animist religious systems, analysts say.

Ostracized

Villagers in Chichima stopped associating with Christians when tribal people there first converted about five years ago, Pastor Pradhan said.

“Fear has gripped their minds, and they need much prayer,” he said, unsure when church services might resume.

Villagers have warned the pastor not to enter the village, saying they will damage his motorbike, he said, adding that police stand with the Hindus and do not protect the Christians.

Odisha (formerly Orissa) state, where Christians make up less than 2.8 percent of the total population, saw anti-Christian violence in 2008 in which more than 120 people lost their lives, at least 50,000 people were internally displaced and more than 6,000 Christian homes were destroyed and damaged.

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 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, as it was in 2020. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position worsened each year after Modi came to power.

Chhattisgarh Attack

Pastor Pradhan, who has also ministered to Christians in Kondagaon District, Chhattisgarh state, said that Christians in the area are still living in fear after a mob of more than 3,000 agitators on Sept. 22 damaged 10 homes belonging to seven Christians in Kakadbeda.

The next morning, they proceeded to Singanpur village, damaging homes of three Christians, and Tiliyabeda village, damaging the homes of two Christians, he said. They assaulted Christians and sent them fleeing for their lives.

“They are praying in their own homes,” Pastor Pradhan said. “I went to visit them to start regular worship service, but they refused. Only after they feel safe to start a church service, they will inform me. So they have asked me not to visit them until then.”

Worship in a church in Perigaon village, Rayagada District, Odisha state has also ceased. Tribal animists there have on three occasions blocked Pastor Pradhan and his wife from entering by placing a huge log on the road, he said. On Dec. 1, 2018, the animists burned the church building where he had led services.

Long Ostracized Christian Withstands New Level of Persecution in India

Followers of traditional tribal religion attack Sattar Singh Markam, a Christian resident of Bargaon, Gariaband District, Chhattisgarh state, India. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – Representatives of eight village councils in central India first summoned a new Christian to give him an ultimatum in October.

They interrupted a church service on Oct. 18 asking for Sattar Singh Markam.

“I was conducting the church service when some men came to call Markam and asked him to present himself before the council,” pastor Chitrasen Sahu told Morning Star News. “He went to see them after the church service was over.”

At the joint meeting in Bargaon, in Chhattisgarh state’s Gariaband District, they told Markam to renounce Christ or “leave with your Christian faith and never come back,” Pastor Sahu said.

Markham, who was suffering three epileptic seizures a day before he put his faith in Christ 12 years ago, told them the Lord had healed him and given him life and that he would never turn away from his Christian faith.

A week later, on Oct. 25, a tribal mob of about 300 people incited by radical Hindus attacked his house after his church, which meets there, had finished worship. Two women remained inside, praying, when the mob arrived and began manhandling and arguing with them while Markam was working in his field. The mob also damaged his house.

When he returned, the women left, and the mob began arguing with him.

As they told him to leave Christianity or face the consequences, Markam told them how he was miraculously healed through Christ. They scoffed at him and began slapping and pushing him, he said. Markam fell to the ground, and the mob beat and kicked him.

“They kept asking me, ‘Now tell us, will you leave your Christian faith and come back to your ancestral faith?’” he told Morning Star News. “I replied, ‘If I had not found Christ, I wouldn’t be alive today; I will not leave Christ at any cost.”

‘Attack His Livelihood’

The mob left after beating him, Markam said.

“While they went,” he told Morning Star News, “they told each other, ‘He will not agree like this – let us attack his livelihood, his fields. When we harvest his crops, he won’t be able to sustain his family and survive in the village without food and money. He will automatically leave the village and flee.’ I am so shaken by what I overheard.”

The next day he filed a complaint with the Sobha police station. Officers registered a First Information Report under Indian Penal Code sections for obscene acts, voluntarily causing hurt, criminal intimidation, destruction, damage or defilement of a place of worship and criminal acts done with common intention.

Police have made no arrests, Pastor Sahu said.

Markam and his family have faced opposition for their faith since they became Christians. At a large meeting in a nearby village 11 years ago, they pressured him to leave Christ, deciding to socially boycott him and his family when he refused. He could not speak with, buy from or sell to anyone in the village.

Nor would anyone work for him.

“For 11 years, Markam has cultivated his land by himself with no help,” said Pastor Sahu. “People are afraid to work even as hired hands on his field because of the warnings. He has suffered much for Christ’s sake, but it has not deterred him from his faith.”

Fomenting Hatred

Arun Pannalal, president of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, said systematic, coordinated attacks on area tribal Christians began in the last six months.

“Outsiders and nontribal people are the ones instigating these attacks,” he said. “There is absolute political silence on them, and the inaction of the police is the only answer we get. The tribal belt in Bastar region [including Gariaband District] is simmering, and a large-scale ethnic violence can erupt at any moment.”

In recent years Hindu nationalist groups have targeted tribal people through propaganda and social programs, leading many to believe that they were originally Hindus. Tribal Christians have maintained their tribal identity and their Christian faith, infuriating Hindu nationalists.

“Seven districts of south Chhattisgarh known as the Bastar area are under the grip of organized terrorism by Hindu fundamentalists groups,” Pannalal told Morning Star News. “Their agenda is to overall create terror, thus establishing their supremacy, fomenting hatred, which in turn precipitates the Hindutva [Hindu nationalist] votes [out of hard-core religious bigotry].”

The Christian community, being neither militant nor uniform and having no representation in the state government, is a soft target, he said.

Markam and his household, including his parents, wife and five children, remain the only Christian family in Bargaon village, where tribal people make up 88.7 percent of the population, according to 2011 Census data.

On Nov. 10 Markam and local Christian leaders submitted a memorandum to the Gariaband District collector pleading for action against the attackers.

The Chhattisgarh Christian Forum has requested the district administration to hold meetings between Christians and their adversaries in disturbed areas, Pannalal said.

“The administration should take steps of preventive detention and assure that law and order situation does not go out of hand,” he added.

The forum also has approached several ministers in the Congress Party-led state government seeking their intervention.

India ranked 10th on the Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has been worse each year since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

Persecution Watch: Praying for Christian Under Attack

12/05/2020 (Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to pray with us tonight on the Prayer Conference Call.

“10 Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

Dear Prayer Warriors, tonight we will lift up Christians in Nigeria and India who are facing relentless attacks. Please read reports below.

Christians Killed in Central and Southwestern Nigeria

Christians in Hiding after Brutal Mob Attack in Central India

We will also continue to pray for:

 

· Leah Sharibu and Alice that they will be set free from Boko Haram captivity

On Jul 08, 2020 · Leah Sharibu was kidnapped along with 109 other students on February 19, 2018 when Boko Haram attacked a boarding school in the city of Dapchi, Maiduguri Diocese, in north-eastern Nigeria. A month later, some of the girls died in captivity and all the others were released, except Leah.

 

· Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison, for his family, the children, and the church in China

On December 28 the police raided the Early Rain Church and arrested Pastor Wang Yi, his wife Jiang Rong, and ten elders of the well-known 750-member church for holding “illegal” services. Some 100 believers were detained, questioned, and later released. Pastor Wang’s wife was also released. Pastor Wang remained in detention.

 

· For Anita, an Iranian Christian, persecuted by the Islamic regime.

 

· For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues

Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence, recently reduced from ten years.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani converted to Christianity at the age of 19 and leads a 400-member house church in Rasht, Iran. Since 2006, Iranian authorities have consistently harassed and detained Pastor Nadarkhani and his family. In 2010, the authorities sentenced him to death for apostasy before acquitting him in 2012. Pastor Nadarkhani was tried again in 2017 on false charges of “acting against national security” and promoting “Zionist Christianity,” for which he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. By July 2018, plainclothes agents raided Pastor Nadarkhani’s home to execute the sentence, beating and apprehending him and using a taser gun on one of his sons. He is now incarcerated at the notorious Evin prison near Tehran.

 

· For the harvest

“2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Luke 10:2

In the love of Christ,

Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in 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

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.

The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.

With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.

Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.

If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Christians in Hiding after Brutal Mob Attack in Central India

In Chhattisgarh state, India, Madkam Sanni was attacked with a sickle and Madvi Muka sustained serious head wounds. (Morning Star News)

India (Morning Star News) – Several families are in hiding after tribal animists in Chhattisgarh state, India threatened to kill them for reporting a mob attack to police last week that sent 21 Christians to hospitals, sources said.

Armed with bamboo sticks, iron rods, bows and arrows and iron sickles, the large mob at 1 a.m. on Nov. 25 attacked a home and adjoining church hall in Chingrwaram village, Sukma District, where Christians had celebrated a child dedication the previous evening. Some 20-25 friends and family were sleeping in the home and another 25-30 in the church hall when the villagers, many of them drunk, attacked while accusing the Christians of converting people and celebrating with loud music.

“They beat up the children as well as the women who were cooking food outside,” said Laxman Mandavi, a 21-year-old survivor of the assault. “While the children were beaten up with hands and feet, the others were shot at with arrows and beaten up with iron rods.”

The assailants shot Mandavi’s father, the 50-year-old homeowner Madvi Muka, with arrows, leaving him wounded, and attacked Madkam Sanni with a sickle that left deep cuts between her fingers and fractured her hand, Mandavi said.

“It was complete mayhem, and people were running to save their lives,” another victim, 24-year-old Laxshu Madkam, told Morning Star News. “I received two cuts on my back. My motorbike was broken. The attackers also broke 10 more motorbikes. They pulled the petrol pipes out of 20 more bikes and let the fuel flow.”

Mandavi said that four of the assailants entered a room where they found a young Christian woman and attempted to rape her.

“The attackers surrounded an unmarried sister and tore her clothes attempting to rape her,” he told Morning Star News. “When she started screaming loudly, they dragged her outside and beat her black and blue. She sustained severe internal injuries.”

Mandavi said the assailants destroyed all grain in the storehouse, damaged the house and belongings inside it and scattered the food that was being prepared for the guests’ breakfast.

“They also alleged that we were converting people and influencing them to turn them to our faith,” he said.

Pastor Musaki Kosa, who leads the church that meets at the home, had attended the dedication along with about 80 others (COVID-19 restrictions in the area allow gatherings of up to 100 people). Like most of the nearly 50 people who were staying overnight at the home and church hall, he was asleep when the mob attacked.

“I was able to slip away just in time and hid myself behind the bushes at the edge of the field,” he said. “I was able to see the attack going on from there. They beat up people in a heartless and cruel way.”

Many of the guests escaped to the jungle to save their lives, including Mandavi.

“I heard noise from outside, and suddenly people came in the house – they were saying, ‘We will kill Madvi [his father] and Laxman [Mandavi] today,’” Mandavi said. “When I heard that they are planning to murder us, I slipped away through the back door. I ran to the jungle and stayed there for the rest of the night. I was alone and scared.”

Mandavi said his father had been receiving threats from villagers for two months.

“They planned to attack us, and nearly two months ago had even threatened that they will beat us,” he said. “We know and recognize everyone who attacked us. Our relationship with them has been cordial historically, but we suspect that outsiders have provoked them against us.”

The assault continued until after dawn.

“The attack went for a long time,” Pastor Kosa said. “It seemed like it would not end.”

Some survivors said they ran to the nearest Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp and asked for help, but CRPF soldiers refused to go with them, stating that it was night-time.

“The CRPF men said that, ‘Unless we get orders from our seniors, we cannot act,’” Mandavi said. “We made innumerable calls to the local police station, to personal mobile numbers, to the emergency numbers, but nobody answered our calls. Most of the personal numbers were turned off, and they did not come until 8 in the morning.”

Assuming it was safe to return, some guests who had fled returned to the church hall at about 6 a.m., only to walk into an ambush, Mandavi said.

“A few of us went back to see how things were, and others accompanied them,” he said. “They did not know that the attackers were waiting for whoever came back. All who went back to see the situation were roughed up very badly.”

A Christian who had not been at the prior evening’s dedication celebration, Madvi Madka, was among those who visited the church hall the next morning.

“Madvi Madka was beaten up so severely that his ribs have been broken, and he is unable to breathe properly,” Mandavi said. “His hand is broken, and he is hurt in the chest as well. He was taken to the hospital in a critical condition.”

Pastor Kosa said many sustained internal injuries and bruises, including at least 10 Christians with head injuries. Madi Chuki suffered a hip injury, and Muchaki Ungi injuries to his ribs and hands, he said.

“Nobody was spared,” Pastor Kosa said. “Christians were beaten ruthlessly to the extent that blood started to ooze out of the bodies.”

Police arrived at 8 a.m., after the assailants had fled, and called for ambulances, survivors said. Officers sent 21 injured Christians to different hospitals according to the nature of their injuries, though many did not receive even first aid, Pastor Kosa said. By evening of Nov. 25, hospitals had admitted 14 of them for treatment while seven were given first aid and discharged, he said.

Four of the most seriously injured were sent to Zila District Hospital Sukma, and two of those were further referred for hospital treatment in Jagdalpur, 62 miles away, he said. The two patients in Jagdalpur were discharged on Sunday (Nov. 29), though still in much pain, he said.

Several patients treated at the government hospital told Morning Star News their treatment was inadequate, as staff refused to take X-rays in spite of their serious injuries. They continued to remain in severe pain, they told Morning Star News through a translator.

“Madvi Madka was being taken to Lankapur in Odisha state to a private hospital for treatment on Dec. 2 and had even reached Malkangiri, Odisha, but the police inspector called us and insisted that he be called back and treated at the government hospital only,” Pastor Kosa told Morning Star News. “Now we are bringing him back. We do not know what to do. The injured are too scared to go to the government hospital for treatment.”

Portrayed as a ‘Brawl’

Madvi Bhima, brother of Madvi Muka, filed a First Information Report (FIR) on Nov. 25 against 16 identified assailants, and police registered a case under penal code sections for rioting, unlawful assembly, obscene acts, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation.

Attorney Amit Manwatkar, a volunteer for the Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission, said police applied weak sections of the law, diminishing the seriousness of the attacks.

“A religiously motivated violent incident has been shown as a common brawl,” Manwatkar told Morning Star News.

Christians submitted a complaint to the district collector, superintendent of police and the local police station on Friday (Nov. 27) and met Sub-Inspector Ishwar Dhruv on Tuesday (Dec. 1) to express their fears of returning to the village.

Dhruv said officers arrested 16 people on Nov. 25-26 and released them on bail.

“In the present time, considering COVID, nobody is ready to keep them in jail,” Dhruv told Morning Star News. “We had not kept them in jail but had kept them in a secret place. We had got orders from above for the same.”

Special forces were deployed in the village for three days after the attacks, and he is patrolling the area every day, he said.

Dhruv denied that the assailants attempted to rape a Christian woman.

“Just because they are saying it, does not mean that the allegation is true,” he told Morning Star News. “They have to prove what they say.”

He also denied that injuries were serious.

“No ribs have been broken,” Dhruv said. “Ask them to show us the medical reports. We will add the relevant section in the FIR if such things have happened.”

District and police officials planned a meeting in the village for Wednesday (Dec. 2) to establish calm between the Christians and the tribal villagers. Eight of the attacked Christians went to the village to present their injuries before the administration along with medical reports, Pastor Kosa said.

“We got some X-Rays done from private laboratories and sent the reports with the Christians who have gone for the meeting,” he said.

Attorney Manwatkar said the villagers threatened to kill the Christians after they filed the police complaint, so about 25 Christians have taken refuge in Pastor Kosa’s house in another town, including the injured and their families.

“When we came to know about the need, we quickly contacted a local store and arranged for rations for 25 people to help them with food and daily needs,” Manwatkar said.

Other Christians have fled and taken refuge in the homes of brethren outside of the village. At this writing only four Christian families remained in Chingrwaram village, Pastor Kosa said.

He said he was grateful for the help received from the Evangelical Fellowship of India.

“They have helped with food expenses and other needs of the victims,” the pastor said.

Attacks Downplayed

Police appear keen to show that the attack resulted from a quarrel over the supposedly loud music at the dedication celebration, sources said.

Downplaying the attack, police officials have called it a clash in which only four people were injured. In the same vein, the chief minister of Chhattisgarh state has issued a plea “not to communalize the violence.”

There are other factors that indicate the attacks were religiously motivated “communal” violence. The assailants also attacked a Christian couple who were not even present at the dedication, breaking into their home, ransacking it and beating them, sources said.

The assailants beat another Christian who had gone to his field on the morning of Nov. 25 and was not present at the previous night’s function. The attackers searched for him and thrashed him, telling him they were beating him because he attends church, Mandavi said.

“There was another celebration on the same day in an adjoining village,” Mandavi said. “They had employed a DJ and were playing loud music throughout the night. We could hear the loud music all through the night as we were hiding in the jungle. The attackers seemed not disturbed at all by their loud music, but they attacked children [at the site of the dedication] who were playing songs from a single small speaker. It was an attack on us because of our faith and not because of sound.”

The village has only 15 homes that are Christian.

Trend of Violence

Attacks on Christians in Chhattisgarh and have become more frequent and intense.

The Rev. Vijayesh Lal of the Evangelical Fellowship of India said that in the previous two years Chhattisgarh was not in the top five states where Christians were targeted.

“However, this year, 2020, things have changed,” he told Morning Star News. “In our half-yearly report highlighting atrocities on Christians, Chhattisgarh was at No. 2, following Uttar Pradesh, with 24 incidents. Attacks on Christians in the state especially in the Bastar area have been increasing.”

A fact-finding team of social and rights activists visited the Bastar region, which includes Sukma District, in October and concluded that attacks against Christians have increased there. Led by prominent activist Medha Patkar, the team included members of the Chhattisgarh Citizens for Joint Action Committee and the National Alliance of Peoples Movement.

National magazine Caravan in June highlighted persecution of Christians in Chhatttisgarh, describing how they have been pressured to reconvert to Hinduism and tribal religion.

“This trend is worrying, and if the government does not step in and protect religious minorities, uphold the law, and punish the offenders, it would be too late to prevent a large-scale attack against Christians in the state, particularly in the Bastar area,” Arun Pannalal, president of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, told Morning Star News. “Hindu, right-wing, fundamentalist organizations are behind this.”

Christians constitute 1.92 percent of the total population of the state, according to the 2011 Census.

India ranked 10th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has been worse each year since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

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