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Persecution Watch: Pray for India

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Tuesday June 21,2022 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.

A Call to Persevere in Faith

(Hebrews 10:19-25) 19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Tonight, we are praying for the people of India

Population: 1,339,330,514—Religion: Hindu 73%, Muslim 14%, Christian 5%, Ethnic religions 4%, Sikh 2%, Agnostic 1%, Buddhist 1%

POPULATION IN UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUPS: 95.6%

SUMMARY

India captivates and overwhelms the senses of all who visit with its vibrant colors, immense crowds, and stimulating 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 19,500 languages and dialects. The most commonly spoken language is Hindi. A staggering one billion-plus people are dispersed over one million square miles. Tremendous recent economic growth has led to India’s increasingly important role in global affairs. Yet the permeating and ever-present reality of extensive poverty remains.

There is more human need in India than in any other country. Approximately 196 million people, 14% of the population, are malnourished. Roughly 30,000 children in India are orphans, and about 10% of the population lives in abject poverty. “Castes” that assign people to a social stratum based on birth have led to many horrific human rights abuses. Though officially outlawed, caste discrimination 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.

When it comes to the spread of the Gospel, India has the most unreached people groups in the world. In fact, 95% of Indians have never heard of Jesus! While Hinduism is practiced by roughly 80%, only about 2% identify as Christians. But because of the sheer size of the population, even minorities (Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs) number in the millions each. Historic manuscripts and oral traditions say Christianity was introduced to India by the Apostle Thomas in 52 AD. The legacies of other Christian workers like William Carey and Mother Teresa have left a mark on the nation, and Christian communities have made significant contributions in education, health, and social sectors. Yet, Christianity is still often seen as a threat to the traditional Hindu way of life. Hindu nationalist groups and the political Bharatiya Janata Party want to make India a “Hindu Rashtra” — or “Hindu Nation.” Anti-conversion laws make it increasingly dangerous to share the Gospel. Those who choose to follow Jesus are often threatened with losing their status, jobs, homes, and even lives. Several Christian organizations have been forced out, leaving many bereft of physical and spiritual aid. However, despite the intense persecution, Indian Christians are courageously persisting as the hands and feet of Jesus to their neighbors.

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.

Alice Loksha Ngaddah was kidnapped in February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.

Leah Sharibu prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.

Pastor Wang Yi to be released from Chinese prison.

Anita a Christian convert, facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran for his release and his family as their persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence.

The Harvest

“I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18)

The Lord’s servant,

Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Conference Call Leader

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: (667) 770-1476 (Note: We have a new call-in phone number)

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, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader 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.

Pastor Tied to Post, Beaten in Delhi, India

(Morning Star News) – Hindu extremists in the National Capital Territory of Delhi last month tied a pastor to a post at a busy intersection and beat him before hundreds of people, but police have yet to make arrests, sources said.

Accusing Pastor Kelom Kalyan Tete of forcible conversion as they beat him, Hindu extremists on Feb. 25 then abducted the bleeding pastor, bound his hands and tied him to an iron rod that divides a road into two at Fatehpur Beri Chowk crossroad in South Delhi, Pastor Tete said.

Though the attack took place in daylight in view of hundreds of people in a busy market area, police have yet to make arrests. Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Harsha Vardhan said on March 4 that officers had questioned people and the investigation was ongoing.

In a video on social media, the bound Pastor Tete is seen sobbing as more than 150 people – including schoolchildren in uniform – surround him, taunt him and strike him.

Pastor Tete, 35, told Morning Star News that the assailants incited the schoolchildren and other passersby to shout, “Hail lord Ram” and to hit him for alleged conversion activities.

“A huge crowd of around 150-200 people surrounded me and assaulted me, including schoolchildren who kicked me with their legs,” said Pastor Tete, who was punched and kicked in the head, chest, stomach, back and repeatedly slapped in the face.

“They hit me on my head so many times that I began to bleed from my nose and mouth – I thought that my nose bone was broken,” he told Morning Star News. “They got water and splashed it on my face, wiped the blood that was oozing out with a handkerchief and started to hit me again.”

The Hindu extremists had seized his phone, bag, Bible, motorbike, helmet and vehicle documents. Initially he had been beaten about four miles away at the Bhati Mines area at about 10:15 a.m., from which he was abducted, bound and beaten until about noon, he said.

No passersby had the courage to question or report the brutality of the attackers, he said.

“I was silent like Jesus was on the cross,” Pastor Tete said. “All my strength was gone. My vision became blurred, and I was not able to hear properly because of being slapped hard on my face repeatedly. I lost my voice for some time and was not able to further shout for help.”

At one point he thought he would be killed, he said.

“Later they started to say, ‘Get a thick bludgeon, and let’s hit him,’” he said. “Now, if they would have hit me with a bludgeon, I would be dead.”

After abducting him, the Hindu extremists initially said they were taking him to the Maidan Garhi police station, but they changed their minds and turned back and began to threaten him, he said.

“They said, ‘We will break your legs, tie you to a tree,’” Pastor Tete told Morning Star News. “They were conspiring to kill me. I pleaded and said, ‘Brothers, do not do this. What wrong have I done, let’s talk this matter out. It is not good; you are troubling an innocent man.’”

A crowd of more than 30 people gathered, and the Hindu extremists instigated them to assault him, he said.

“They punched me, threw me down on the ground, kicked me, and stomped over me,” he said.

The assailants then brought him to the crossroad and tied him to the iron post with a rope.

“Even the spectators could have questioned the men beating me to not take the law into their hands, and that if they had some issues, they should call the police,” he said. “But it is so hurting that nobody stepped forward. Everybody mutely watched them treat me in such an inhuman way.”

Pastor Tete said he did not know how, at about noon, the ropes binding his hands came untied.

“Only the Lord saved me – I believe that the Lord opened my tied hands,” he said.

Pastor Tete then managed to escape and, hiding in lanes behind vehicles, reached home, he said. He found his vehicle keys in his pocket, and he later sent someone to retrieve his motorbike. The assailants had left his mobile phone, motorbike papers, helmet and other possessions at one of the area shops, and church members collected them for him the next day, he said.

Originally from Simdega District in Jharkhand state, Pastor Tete has been ministering in Delhi for the past 18 years and pastors a church whose name is undisclosed for security reasons.

Police Inaction

Pastor Tete said police initially declined to register a First Information Report (FIR), doing so only after online news outlet Scroll.in reported the attack.

Instead of collecting evidence from the CCTV footage of the assault at the intersection where he was tied up, police called Pastor Tete to the Bhati Mines area, gathered some women and asked them questions about his preaching, he said.

“Everything is captured on CCTV,” Pastor Tete said. “The police are not gathering the evidence from the footage but instead are trying to frame me. Everything will be clear after they get the evidence from the CCTV.”

Scroll.in reported that the FIR has been registered under Indian Penal Code sections for kidnapping or abduction with intent of wrongful condiment, voluntarily causing hurt, wrongful restraint and “acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.”

Since submitting a written complaint to the Maidan Garhi police station on Feb. 27, Pastor Tete has received neither a copy of the FIR nor its number despite several requests, he said.

The Head Constable of the Maidan Garhi station, known only as Rajendra, refused to give the FIR number to Morning Star News, stating that matters pertaining to a church cannot be disclosed.

Additional DCP Vardhan confirmed that an FIR was registered and asked Morning Star News to call an hour later for the FIR number – at which time phone calls to him went unanswered.

Pastor Tete said police were twisting the case and downplaying it. Officers told him the FIR was ready on Thursday (March 3), but when he went to collect it, they refused to give it to him, he said. The pastor has been going to the police station almost every day to request a copy of the FIR, but officers refuse to give him a copy or give an update on the case, 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’ 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Praying for the Persecuted and India

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Tuesday January 11, 2021 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.

The Lord is urging us to lift India and Indian Christians again.

India has a population of about 1.3 billion, of which there are an estimated 67 million Christians (about 1/2%).

Persecution has increased dramatically since PM Modi and the RSS Nationalist party has ruled the country. Hindu extremism have expanded, become more powerful, and exceedingly violent under Modi.

Their object is to make India a completely Hindu nation.  Anti-Conversion laws have passed in several states which are used to harass, fine and jail Christians. There is also a push for a National Anti-Conversion law.

Hindus from the RSS party often attack Christians with little or no consequences.  RSS informants live in most villages and report on Christian activities, resulting in attacks and arrests. Churches have been demolished or burned, meetings disrupted, Bibles and Christian literature destroyed.  

Christians from Hindu backgrounds, of course, face extreme persecution from family members and communities. In this recent video report, Hindu extremists call for Muslims (over 209 million live in India) to be killed as they make threats to Christians as well.

  • Pray for salvation for government leaders; that Modi would enforce the religious freedom he espouses.
  • Pray anti-conversion laws would be abolished.
  • Pray for salvation of all those who persecute the Christians.
  • Pray for salvation of the masses who just want to live their lives as Hindus, etc., but don’t know Messiah.  They need prayer too.
  • Pray for protection for pastors, evangelists, and other ministers.
  • Pray for families of pastors, etc. who are being persecuted; they would be supported, and their children will not turn away from the Truth.
  • Pray for God to confirm their ministry with signs following.
  • Pray Christians would have a bold witness of their faith; the good news would reach all of India.
  • Pray Christians would be able to forgive their persecutors.
  • Pray that Christian converts would remain strong in their faith and not succumb to pressure to return to Hinduism or their tribal religion.
  • Pray for people to disciple new believers; that they would grow in their faith.
  • Pray for the protection of women and girls, especially the Dalit.
  • Pray for good jobs for the Christians who are discriminated against; God would give them special favor and abilities.
  • Pray for a spirit of joy and praise among the Christians; help them provoke others to jealousy.
  • Pray access to the Word by every available means:  written word, internet, broadcasts, story tellers, testimonies.

We will also remember and pray for these dear ones:

  • Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
  • Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
  • Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
  • 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.

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: (667) 770-1476 (Note: We have a new call-in phone number)

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, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader 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.

Praying for Christians in India suffering extreme persecution

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Tuesday December 28, 2021 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.

India: Population 1.38 billion, Christians 67,356,000

“They want to remove us from society,” a Christian farmer said of Hindu extremists. The possibility that some Indians would reject Hinduism for Christianity is a threat to their dream of turning India into a pure Hindu nation.

A hundred years ago, a Hindu nationalist group articulated their dream of making India a Hindu nation, pushing Christians and Muslims to the side.

The pressure is greatest in central and northern India, where the governing party of Prime Minister Modi is in control, and where evangelical Christian groups are making inroads among lower-caste Hindus.  The central state of Madhya Pradesh passed a vaguely defined anti-conversion law, that carries prison sentences of 10 years for any person found guilty of leading conversions.

Last month a Hindu priest presented, in public to the leaders of the major political party [B.J.P.], his remedy for those who try to convert others: beheading. read this report

Anti-Christian vigilantes are sweeping through villages, storming churches, burning Christian literature, attacking schools, and assaulting worshipers.  In January vigilantes attacked the Satprakashan Sanchar Kendra Christian center in the city of Indore. Then the police arrived, and arrested the pastors and church elders

Pastor David said his first night in jail was terrifying. He was interrogated repeatedly and denied food, water, and a lawyer. He and eight other Protestant elders spent two months in jail and still face serious charges.

Hindu extremists also devise devastating social boycotts in remote villages against isolated Christians. They have blocked Christians from community wells, barred them from visiting Hindu homes and ostracized villagers for believing in Jesus.

Village elders in Madhya Pradesh recently instituted a $130 fine for any family that allows Christians in their home.

In the cities a white-collar army of lawyers and clerks file legal complaints against Christian organizations. Hindu nationalist lawyers filed complaints against Christian charities, starving them of funds and shutting many down.

  • Please pray that despite pressure, Christians would not be isolated from each other.
  • That where extremists have cut off water and food, the Lord will provide miraculously.

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

  • Pray that christians will continue to make inroads among lower-caste Hindus.

2 Corinthians 8:2 “While they were being severely tested by suffering, their overflowing joy, along with their extreme poverty, has made them even more generous.”

  • Pray that in poverty, believers would have joy and Fruits of the Spirit.
  • That new believers would remain strong, and those born in church would have a strong belief.

Luke 21:12 “They will seize you and persecute you. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, sisters, relatives, and friends, they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me.”

  • Pray that believers would not be overwhelmed by the persecution.
  • That lower-caste Hindus would not support the dominate Hindu party

Romans 8:38 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

  • Pray where there is Anti-Christian violence, God’s grace would be more apparent to the believers.

Psalm 18:26 “To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.”

  • Pray that the courts, Christian lawyers, and lawyers who love freedom would have favor of protecting the rights of minorities.

We want to lift up persecuted witnesses to the Lord: 

  • Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
  • Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
  • Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
  • 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.

Michael Laird, 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: (667) 770-1476 (Note: We have a new call-in phone number)

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, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader 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.

Photo: Prayer service of a native ministry whose workers were attacked in 2018 by Hindu extremists in Bihar state, India. (GEMS)

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.

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.

Pastor in India Locked in Room and Left to Die

Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, Buddhist site venerated by both Buddhists and Hindus in Bihar state, India. (Creative Commons, Ineb-2553)

India (Morning Star News) – The last thing pastor Shelton Vishwanathan recalled happening before he lost consciousness in a village in northeast India was Hindu extremists threatening to offer him as a sacrifice to their god as they belted his head.

“They punched my back and told me that they would offer me as a sacrifice to their deity as a punishment for distributing gospel tracts,” he told Morning Star News. “They struck severe blows on my head, so that I soon fainted.”

When the six radical Hindus first stopped him and told him to quit handing out tracts in Tiryani village, in Bihar state’s Sheohar District on Oct. 5, he had told them “Fine” and was about to go on his way when one of them seized the keys from his scooter, took away his phone and signaled the others to attack him, he said.

When he regained consciousness, he found himself locked in a dark room.

“I shouted for help, cried loud hoping someone would hear my cries and come to help me, but nobody could hear me,” Pastor Vishwanathan said. “I was lying down on the floor without food or water for the next few days. They did not give me anything to eat or drink.”

Seven days later, an elderly woman who lives nearby heard his cries and knocked on the door, he said.

“She told me that the door was bolted from outside and that she would open it for me on the condition that I would not tell anyone that she opened it,” said Pastor Vishwanathan, who leads a house church of 18 people. “She was very scared that if the assailants found out that she opened the door, she would also land in trouble.”

He explained what had happened and told her he would starve and die there if she did not open the door, the pastor said. She took him out of the room and later gave him food and water.

“Had she not helped, I would not be alive today,” he said. “I fully believe that it was God who sent her to help me.”

After returning to his home in Sheohar with strangers helping him to find his way by foot, he learned from neighbors that his family had searched for him throughout the district. Frightened, the family members sold some furniture in order to make it to his wife’s hometown in Nepal. Bihar state borders Nepal.

The assailants had taken his phone – which contained his in-laws’ phone number – and Pastor Vishwanathan had no money to make a phone call. Neighbors offered him food, some money and an old cell phone, but for weeks he could not reach his wife. With help from other Christians, eventually he was able to make contact and pay for his family to return home on Nov. 28.

Through the intervention of legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom India, senior pastors from Patna, capital of Bihar state, offered their assistance, suggesting he file charges against the attackers, he said.

“But I did not want to pursue a case against the assailants,” Pastor Vishwanathan said. “I had come under attack several times for leading a home church and sharing the gospel in villages but survived only because of God’s grace. Even in the past, the police warned me that there is a threat to my life. As the Navratri [Hindu festival] celebrations were in full swing, if I was found again the assailants might have really offered me as a sacrifice to the deity.”

Eight Hindu extremists in Sheohar District had attacked him on June 23, 2019, pushing him off his scooter and breaking his hand and foot as they beat him.

Violence against Christians in Bihar state has increased in the past two years, with attacks on house churches and pastors happening weekly, sources said. Many of those attacked choose not to call police, as officers are often complicit in Hindu extremist aggression.

Pastor Vishwanathan has had to vacate his home.

“The landlord of our rented home got to know that I was locked up in a room for a week, and he told me that he cannot risk the lives of others by letting me stay in the house knowing there is a threat to my life,” he said. “He issued an ultimatum to vacate the house.”

With financial help from Christian groups, he was able to find another rented house, he said. The assailants took his motor-scooter, and as he bought it used and has no vehicle documents, police have told him there is no way to find it.

The pastor hopes to continue distributing tracts.

“I am overjoyed to see the Lord’s hand in every situation over the past two months,” Pastor Vishwanathan. “My family who thought I must have been lost and died have returned to see me alive. We give thanks and praises to the Lord.”

 

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.

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