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India

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This church building in northern India was destroyed by Hindu extremists
Image: Gospel for Asia

Although in many parts of India our brothers and sisters are left in peace, in some areas believers are vulnerable to abuse and violence by supporters of the Hindutva movement, which strives to make the country religiously “pure”.

In August 2013, a Christian community in northern India had almost finished constructing its church building when a 1,000-strong mob came to destroy it, before beating the pastor and other Christians. It was part of an ongoing anti-Christian campaign in the area.

Militant Hindus regularly threaten and attack Christians and disrupt worship services; in 2013 one church group reported a total of 131 anti-Christian attacks in the country in the previous year. Karnataka state, where persecution is particularly severe, saw the highest number of anti-Christian attacks.

The authorities often do little to help; the police frequently arrest the Christian victims of violence rather than the perpetrators. Corruption is also rife in the courts, and Christians’ unwillingness to play the system dishonestly works against them. Since the horrific and sustained anti-Christian violence in Orissa state in 2007-8, many of the crimes have gone unpunished. In contrast, seven Christians were imprisoned for life in October 2013 for the murder of the militant Hindu leader whose death sparked the violence, despite an apparent lack of evidence against them and responsibility for the killing having been claimed by a Maoist group.

Christian activities are restricted by “anti-conversion laws”, which are currently active in five states. These prohibit conversions by “force, fraud or allurement”, but they can be misused to prevent legitimate Christian evangelism.

Much of the Hindu extremist activist activity has been prompted by the remarkable growth of the Church in India in recent generations, especially amongst Dalits. Two-thirds of India’s 27 million Christians are Dalits, who are at the very bottom of the Indian caste system. Under Indian law, Dalits who are Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist are given certain advantages which are not available to Christian or Muslim Dalits. This discrimination keeps the latter two groups trapped in intense poverty.

According to tradition, the apostle Thomas brought the Gospel to India, and there has been an established Christian community since at least the 2nd century. Later there were a number of mass conversions, especially among the lowest levels of the Hindu caste system.

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    • Pray for a Christian family in Kandhamal in Orissa state, India, who have been left devastated after their home was destroyed for the third time by Hindu extremists. The Digals of Budruka village were among hundreds of Christian families to lose their home in the horrendous anti-Christian violence of December 2007. They returned two months later and rebuilt their house, but in August 2008 the attacks resumed, and their second home was also destroyed. After receiving financial aid from the government they were able to rebuild it again this year, but in April it was wrecked once more, shattering their hopes of returning to their village to cultivate their land. Pray that the Lord will comfort them in their distress and provide them with a peaceful dwelling-place and secure home (Isaiah 32:18). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 19 hours ago

    • The landslide victory of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India’s general election in May sparked alarm for Christians and other minorities in the country. The BJP is the political wing of a Hindu nationalist movement, Hindutva, which is striving to make India a religiously pure nation. It has given support to Hindu extremist groups that attack Christians, and states under the party’s rule have generally experienced a rise in anti-Christian violence. The BJP has introduced “anti-conversion” laws in a number of states, which are used to prevent legitimate Christian evangelism. Prior to the general election, the BJP pledged to introduce national legislation to curb “missionary” activity and end proselytising if elected. Pray that the BJP will rule justly and that the rights and freedoms of all Indian citizens will be upheld. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Pray for Christians in Sri Lanka facing attacks from Buddhist extremists, who have forced the closure of numerous churches. In an apparently positive move, the government has created a Religious Disputes Unit to address conflicts between different groups and combat attempts to create religious discord. But many Christians and Muslims believe that Buddhist extremists are allowed to operate with impunity and that the new unit will not solve the problems faced by non-Buddhists. A cap on the building of places of worship has also been announced, and this seems to serve the Buddhist lobby, which is opposed to expanding Christian activity. Pray for protection for Christian congregations and that their ministry and mission will not be further impeded. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Cry out to the Lord for Alexis Prem Kumar, a 47-year-old Christian minister from India who was abducted in Afghanistan on 2 June. No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but three Taliban militants have been arrested in connection with it. Alexis had worked for an NGO in Afghanistan since 2011, helping returning refugees. He was leaving a school near Herat for Afghan children who have recently returned from Iran or Pakistan when he was seized. Give thanks for Alexis’ willingness to serve the Lord in what remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians, and pray for his safe return. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Sep 2014 00:00

    • The case of an Egyptian Christian man arrested following complaints by Muslim neighbours that he had been using his home as a church without a permit highlights the need of the Christian community for more places of worship. The 55-year-old man from Minya in Upper Egypt, where Christians are particularly vulnerable to persecution, was arrested once before, in 2011, for the same offence. Every church building in Egypt requires a permit, but these are notoriously difficult to obtain. Pray that the authorities will show leniency to the Christian man and that a provision in the new constitution addressing the issue of church buildings will be enacted. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Sep 2014 00:00

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