Inside a church in India

A leader of a Hindu extremist group has declared he will rid India of Christianity by 2021. Attacks tend to increase as the church gathers which is why Easter is becoming an increasingly dangerous time to attend church.

For the past eight years, persecution against Christians in India has increased steadily. This year, India has entered the top 10 countries of the World Watch List for the first time – ranks no.10.

During last year’s Easter celebration, a number of incidents were reported in India.

A pastor was attacked outside of his church in the southern state of India, Tamil Nadu. Sundar Singh was leading a prayer service at his church in the city of Dharmapuri, when a group of men and women started to vandalize motorbikes outside his church. When Singh went to investigate, they threw stones at him. He was injured so badly he had to be admitted to hospital.

Instead of being punished for their crimes, the attackers filed a complaint against Singh, accusing him of “misbehaviour” towards women.

On Easter Sunday, another attack took place 170km south, in the village of Maradur. A mob of 40 people entered the church service and began to attack the congregation and pastor.

When police arrived, they allegedly did nothing to stop the attack.

‘Our Family Will Continue To Serve God’

Attacks against Christians are often violent and in the worst cases, lead to death. In 2017, church leader Sultan Masih was shot dead in north-western India. He had received threats that if he continued to preach, he would be killed.

The church of Pastor Sultan Masih

Sultan Masih had been pastor of the church for 20 years. He left a wife and four children behind – two of whom were adopted.When Masih was on the phone, standing outside the church, he was shot.

“Our father was a courageous man and he was never afraid to die for Jesus,” Masih’s son said.

“He has put the same zeal in us. Our family will continue to serve God.”

Paul Tamizharasan, a close friend of Masih’s, told World Watch Monitor following the funeral: “Family members are grieving and we hope the government will catch the accused. We demand answers and have gone to the Punjab government, but they couldn’t find who did this.”

Other Attacks Over Easter 2018

Disrupted service at the Telangana Sheloha Prayer House

25 March |  Religious extremists disrupted a Palm Sunday church service at the Telangana Sheloha Prayer House, Balapur, Hyderabad. They threatened the Christians with greater punishment if they didn’t stop worshipping.

28 March |  A baptism in the Evangelical Churches of India (ECI) was disrupted when a group of Hindu extremists physically assaulted the Christians gathered there.

30 March | In Renta Chintala, Pastor Maddira Kotireddy was badly injured when extremists attacked him. Pastor Kottireddy is a well-known evangelist and had been warned several times by Hindu extremists to stop his ministry.

125 Persecution Incidents in two months

The rise in the number of violent Incidents against the Christians in India is at its peak. First two months of 2019 recorded a total of 125 incidents, sources are the local churches who mention about the incidents their members have come across.

4 churches have been burnt and 1 murder has taken place since January. There have been several severe beatings and attempts to murder. In one of the incidents Pastor Silas* who had been sleeping in his car in the night was almost burnt inside his car in the night by Hindu extremists.

Preparing To Stand Strong In Persecution

Through our local partners, Open Doors run persecution preparation training for pastors and church leaders. These seminars help believers understand how to respond biblically to persecution and how to lead their congregation through it.

Christians attend training in Northern India

“I learnt that following Christ is not easy and that we might face difficulties because of our faith…I will share these things to the people in my church so that they might also be ready for persecution.” – Church leader who attended the persecution preparation training.

Our aim is not to stop persecution in India. As a ministry, our goal is to strengthen the persecuted church in order for them to continue being the light of Jesus in their community.

*Name changed for security reasons

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