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News / Thoughts

India: Why are Christians last in line?

June 29, 2020

In many countries the coronavirus pandemic is highlighting how Christian communities are not being given access to government aid and relief. We spoke to Heena*, an Open Doors partner working in India, to find out what sorts of discrimination is happening.

Image: Usha’s small Christian community hadn’t received food until Open Doors partners came

Is it true that Christians are being neglected in the aid distribution?

Heena*: Yes. Imagine you’re a Christian family in a Hindu village. It’s very likely the villagers are socially boycotting you. Even when there isn’t lockdown, you’re not allowed to buy from the local shop or draw water from the local well. You will have to try to get food and other daily necessities from nearby Christians or go to villages where the opposition against Christians isn’t so strong.

But now your village is in lockdown. You’ve lost your income. Aid is being distributed to the local shop or the local village committee and they won’t give you the food, not even when you have a food ration coupon.

Why can’t the Christians go to the police?

Heena: The chances are that police won’t listen to you if you’re a Christian. They might accuse you of trying to convert Hindus – or, even if they don’t persecute you, they’ll simply tell you to make compromises. ‘You have to stay in this village and live with the other villagers. Don’t follow Jesus. Just do what everybody else does.’

Do you have examples of Christians being bypassed?

Heena: We know of so many, but here are a few we can share. We have to withhold certain details to not give away the identity of these Christians, or else they will be punished for sharing the information with us. Recently I heard of a family of labourers who’d lost their income who didn’t receive help from the local village committee. The Hindus said the Christians already received help from foreigners, which they hadn’t.

A disabled Christian man and his family of six were also bypassed. He can’t even walk, but still the local people aren’t giving him and his family any food. They have been opposed by the village since they came to faith.

We also received a cry for help from a family of five. The police have been threatening them a lot because they are Christians and do ministry. Now everyone in their village received relief aid, except for the Christian families. These are just some examples out of many. In some cases, we have been able to help. In others, we’re still hoping to reach them soon.

What you can do…

Finally, you can pray now…

  • That Open Doors partners and other Indian believers would be protected and strengthened during this time
  • For aid and relief to get to those who are most in need and most vulnerable
  • For communities to come together and share resources despite differences
  • For the church in India to rise up and shine God’s light and hope during this time.

*Name changed for security reasons

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