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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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Daily prayer

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  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 12 hours ago

  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

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