India Coronavirus (COVID-19) 23 April 2020 – An Update From Barnabas Coronavirus Emergency Network

Jharkand state

a Christian ministry

“As India continues its attempt at the world’s biggest social isolation effort to halt the new coronavirus outbreak, millions are struggling to navigate weeks of cancelled public transit, closed businesses, and therefore no Church services are being allowed.

“The virus, despite lockdown, has increased disturbingly both in speed and spread.

“The small independent and house churches that hold the major percentage of overall churches in India are suffering as the BJP led Government continues to spread the ‘virus of communal hatred’.

“Even during these times, reports of discrimination against the Christian and pastors are being reported.“ Pastor J.D. pastoring an Independent church said that they are not being provided with any dry rations or food supply aid being provided by the government, as the local Hindutva groups, refuse to give them him. Pastor was told to first denounce his faith in Jesus Christ before receiving the food.

“A.K., a  believer, shared his story saying that he is left with very little ration and is a daily wage worker ad is not being provide with food and so he and his entire family is eating one day meal and the rest they are surviving by drinking water.  

“The government is not handling the fight against the Covid 19 unitedly, and is discriminating on the grounds of religion, and the Christians continue to face hardships and are in distress.

“About 120 million jobs being hit in the first phase of the lockdown which is also going to impact the churches in a huge way as these small independent churches survive  on small tithes and offerings. The congregation (church members ), are living under extreme conditions, and are suffering as mostly they are daily wage workers, and with the  lockdowns being announced and reverse migration  happening they are jobless and struggling to survive for their day to day needs and which is making the whole church starving and struggling to live.

“Offerings will go down as most of the adherents of churches come from economically weaker sections and their incomes are going to be hit as also need for financial security. 

“This will hurt collections in the churches and the biggest threat will be to small rural churches with handful of people. The Pastors were already living with limited resources and have not much of support. They will find economic hardships the most.  

“The threats the churches are going to face are:

  • Dip in the offerings and tithes.
  • Difficulty in running a church as mass gatherings not allowed.
  • Increase homelessness and poverty, as Christians will not be given priority of jobs created over the Hindus.
  • Increased attacks and ostracization against the Christians.
  • Major threat of churches dying and closures due to lack of resources.

“Now with these threats in our face, we envisage that over time, as the world begins to return to the New Normal, we will see the following aspects of the churches becoming more visible:

  1. Further discrimination
  2. Increased Debt Bondage a trap which will be seen cause of survival.
  3. Untreated ill health.”