A leader of a Hindu extremist group has declared he will rid India of Christianity by 2021. Attacks tend to increase as the church community gathers, which is why Easter is becoming an increasingly dangerous time to go to church.
During last year’s Easter celebration, a number of incidents were reported in India.
Image: Inside a church in India.
Sundar Singh was leading a prayer service at his church in the city of Dharmapur, when a group of men and women started to vandalise 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.
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.
Image: 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.
“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.”
Image: 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.
Through our local partners, Open Doors runs 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.
Image: 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.
India is ranked at no.10 on the 2019 Open Doors World Watch List. Christians in India face horrific levels of violence from extremists, with thousands of attacks taking place every year. Several states in India have brought in anti-conversion laws, and the BJP have made it clear that they would like to make these laws nation-wide. Such laws are often used as an excuse to disrupt church services and harass Christians, and make it incredibly difficult for Christians to share their faith with others.
Choosing to follow Jesus takes courage in India. Get your free copy of our new Guts and Courage resource to learn more about the places in the world where Christians face pressure, violence and intimidation for their faith and get inspired to live out your walk with God with more boldness…
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imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.