Leader: Prime Minister Narendra Modi
How many Christians?: 67.4 million (4.9% of the population)
World Watch List Rank: 10
“As I was locked in isolation, I realised I had more time for communion with the Lord and I waited with patience, praying and thanking the Lord for everything.”
Gaurav, a Christian from India
Hindu extremists believe that all Indians should be Hindus, and that the country should be rid of Christianity and Islam.
Hindu nationalists see being Hindu as part of Indian identity – following any other faith is seen as a betrayal. The government, led by a Hindu nationalist party, turns a blind eye to attacks on Christians and other minorities. Christians make up less than five per cent of the population in India, and in rural areas they can be particularly isolated. They face beatings, false imprisonment, and even death because of their faith.Christianity is seen as a ‘foreign faith’ and Christians can be blamed for bad luck in their communities.
Several states in India have adopted anti-conversion laws, and the ruling party have made it clear that they would like to bring in these laws nationwide. 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.
But people are coming to know Jesus, many in miraculous and amazing ways.
When Sujit led 60 people to Christ in his village he faced opposition and violence. Three times the villagers destroyed the church, three times he was beaten. Yet he has not given up and he intends to return.
Open Doors local partner Rajesh (not his real name) explains the risks of following Jesus in India and tells us what it’s like for him to support vulnerable believers.
Gaurav (name changed) was falsely accused of forcing people to convert to Christianity. Few people are actually convicted under these laws, but cases can drag on for years. He was one of the unluckiest ones – he was imprisoned for four months, along with two of his friends.
When they were finally released, it took them three years to prove their innocence. “Meanwhile, I and my friends had no proper jobs,” says Gaurav. “We were viewed as criminals by our community and no one wanted to associate with us.”
God didn’t abandon them, even while they faced tough opposition from their community. Open Doors partners were able to help with essentials, as well as guidance for the court case. “God is so faithful,” says Gaurav. “We lacked nothing – He is so good!”
Persecution in India has increased significantly over the past five years, and has now remained relatively unchanged for the past year. The Covid-19 pandemic has offered a new weapon for persecutors, though, and Christians are often deliberately overlooked when official Covid-19 food and aid is distributed. This has left many desperate for food, particularly since many Christians are from the Dalit caste and thus very poor, and have lost their sources of income this year.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in India. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Working through church partners, Open Doors strengthens believers in India with Bible and Christian literature distribution, training, education, livelihood and community development, emergency aid relief, and advocacy.
Click the India tag below for a list of the latest articles and news on the country…
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.