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Lent Prayer - India

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Lent Prayer - India

Project(s): 21-930, 21-510

Country/Region: India, South and East Asia

Professor T. J. Joseph, a Christian who taught at a college in Kerala State, was attacked in July 2010 when he got home from church by unknown assailants who cut off his right hand with an axe. Professor Joseph’s sister said her brother “has only talked about forgiveness, forgiveness and forgiveness”.

20110322-India-4X3.jpg

Indian Christian children play volleyball at a Christian home for orphaned children, which is supported by Barnabas

Christians number about 6% of the total population of India, and some 60% of Christians are Dalits, who occupy the lowest level of Indian society. Christians face discrimination in all walks of life and also suffer personal violence from Hindu extremists and attacks against churches and Christian buildings. In May 2010, seven students at a Bible college in Mumbai were hospitalised after a mob armed with sticks and iron bars stormed their campus. In August, four attackers targeted a church in Karnataka State during the morning service. They accused the Christians of forced conversions and started beating them up.

The violence even extends to murder: Shravan Kumar, an Indian missionary, was killed in Jharkhand in September, and evangelist Ravi Murmu was murdered in Laxmanpur, Bihar state in May. When asked how the family was coping with the murder, Ravi’s brother (also an evangelist) replied, “The peace of God still reigns in this house and in this family.”

Following the serious large-scale anti-Christian violence in Orissa in December 2007 and August 2008 that left many Christians dead or injured and thousands homeless, only a handful of people have been brought to justice for the violence. On 29 June 2010 a senior member of the Hindu extremist political party, the BJP, was given a seven-year prison sentence for murdering a Christian during the violence.

India’s constitution guarantees religious liberty, but in the last few years a number of states have introduced “anti-conversion laws”. Under these laws, non-Hindus are liable to penalties for converting someone by “force”, “fraud” or “allurement”. These laws are often misused to prevent legitimate Christian evangelism.

Pray for religious freedom to be upheld in every Indian state and that Hindus who choose to follow Christ will be able to do so without fear of punishment. Pray for the families of Ravi and Shravan, that they will know the peace of the Lord in their sadness. Thank the Lord for the forgiving attitude of Professor Joseph; pray that he and his family will be a powerful witness to those who maimed him. Please remember especially our brothers and sisters in Orissa on the anniversary of the 2007 violence. Pray that the Church in India will continue to serve the nation without fear.

Barnabas Fund projects in India include

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