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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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    • Almighty God, we pray that You will protect Your people in the Holy Land. We pray especially for the congregation of a church in Gaza City, whose church compound was attacked with a small explosive device on 26 February. We give You thanks that the church, school, nursery and pastor’s house were undamaged and that a fi re that was lit under the pastor’s car was extinguished when Christians came outside to investigate. We pray that the congregation may stand firm for You in the face of the threatening message that was written on the wall facing the church gate: “We’ll get you soon, O worshippers of the cross.” We ask that there will be no further attempt to attack this church or others in the area. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 6 hours ago

    • Taliban militants attempted to attack a Christian-run day-care centre in Kabul, Afghanistan, on 28 March, saying it was “a church used to convert Muslims to Christianity”. The attackers mistakenly targeted the next-door building, which houses workers on an agricultural and de-mining project, instead; two Afghan civilians, one a young girl, died in the crossfi re. All five Taliban bombers were also killed in the raid on the heavily-secured compound. The day-care centre that they were attempting to target, which is used by expatriates, is said to hold Christian worship services on certain days. Ask the Lord to change the hearts of those who plan and carry out terrorist attacks against Christians and other targets in Afghanistan; pray that they will turn instead to Him. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Jul 2014 00:00

    • “He was always a light for Christ and he had a love and commitment that he expressed for the Afghan people because of that love for Christ.” The widow of Dr Jerry Umanos, an American doctor who was shot dead at the Christian-run hospital where he worked in Kabul, Afghanistan, spoke of her husband’s faith and ministry. Two visiting American Christians, father and son Gary and John Gabel, were also killed on 24 April when an Afghan security guard opened fire on the staff he was meant to be protecting. Pray for comfort for the grieving families of the three men, and ask the Lord to safeguard the future of the hospital, which provides much-needed medical care and also trains Afghan doctors and nurses. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Jul 2014 00:00

    • “We ask all Christians and members of other faiths to reconsider their own beliefs and join Hinduism.” Krishna Hari Baskota, secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister in Nepal, was speaking about the application process for a new identity card that will show citizens’ religious affiliation. Christians and members of other minorities will be subjected to greater scrutiny before obtaining the official documents and will be asked to reiterate their faith. One Christian rights activist said that the government is trying to discourage people from converting from Hinduism. Pray that the Nepalese authorities will not discriminate against Christians but will treat them on equal terms with the Hindu majority. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Jul 2014 00:00

    • Lift up to the Lord a group of Christians in Pali village, Jharkhand state, India, who were attacked by Hindu extremists on two consecutive days in an effort to force them to convert to Hinduism. On 4 March, the offenders stormed into the home of Pastor Tilas Bedia, beat the Christians present and threatened to kill them if they continued to follow Christ. The following morning, a mob dragged 15 Christians from their homes, told them to convert back to Hinduism and beat them. The pastor and two others were paraded half-naked to the outskirts of the village. Adding insult to injury, a case of forcible conversion was subsequently registered against the pastor and three other Christians. Pray that the Lord will give them all the strength to stand firm in the face of such opposition. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Jul 2014 00:00

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