Displaying items by tag: India
The persecution of Christians in India is intensifying as Hindu extremists aim to cleanse the country of their presence and influence. The driving force behind this is Hindutva, an ideology that refuses to treat Christians and other religious minorities as true Indians because they allegedly have allegiances that lie outside India; it asserts the country should be purified of their presence. This is leading to systemic, often violent, carefully orchestrated targeting of Christians. The extremists often use social media to spread disinformation and stir up hatred. Pray that social media companies will do more to combat the spread of fake news and hatred on their platforms. Overall, violence against Christians remains at an extreme level, and levels of pressure in all spheres of life remain very high or extreme. Regions experiencing the most persecution are ruled by the Hindu nationalist party (BJP). Pray that this situation changes with the next elections (Himachal Pradesh in November and Gujarat in December).
India has 18% of the world’s population, but only 4% of its water resources. It is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. Many face high to extreme water stress; depending on an increasingly erratic monsoon for water requirements increases this challenge. Climate change is likely to exacerbate this pressure on water resources, as the frequency and intensity of floods and droughts increases. Currently the World Bank is engaged in various aspects of water resource management and the supply of drinking water and sanitation services across the country. Also, prime minister Narendra Modi has launched the Jal Jeevan (water is life) Mission, which aims to bring tap water to every Indian home by 2024. Millions of households have benefited from the programme so far. But with just two years left before the deadline, millions are still waiting, and people living in rural areas travel miles on foot, across harsh terrain, to collect water from sources that are not always clean.
Devastating flash floods have killed 37 people and hundreds are still missing in eastern Kentucky’s worst disaster for decades. The death toll will continue to rise. Hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed. People are sitting on their porches, hoping somebody is coming to save them. See In July, Sydney in Australia was hit with a month’s worth of rain in five days; people are still cleaning up three feet of swirling mud. Pakistan has 7,000+ glaciers, but rising global temperatures are causing them to melt rapidly, creating thousands of glacial lakes that might burst and release millions of cubic metres of water and debris, flooding villages in just a few hours. Worsening Indian monsoons cause Mumbai residents to commute on Venetian gondolas and inflatable dinghies. This year residents are being asked to tweet details about floods in their neighbourhoods. The data is then used to issue immediate geographically-specific flood alerts.
India is the most ethnically diverse nation on earth, with over 2,500 people groups, 22 official languages, and thousands of castes. It hosts most of the world’s Hindus and Muslims. The country traditionally maintains free speech and religious freedom, but these are being tested by Hindu nationalism; this mainly targets Muslims, but Christians also face discrimination, persecution and anti-conversion laws. Pray that India’s proud traditions of tolerance and freedom will continue and strengthen. Its churches have sent 100,000 people across India to communicate the gospel, start churches, and relieve suffering and injustice: resulting in tens of thousands of new congregations. Pray that this amazing missionary movement will transform India through Christ. However, this week the most urgent prayer need is for the millions displaced by floods in the north and 25 days of heatwave in densely-populated Delhi, where vast numbers are falling ill from heatstroke. Some have little access to clean water.
Praise God for the conviction of an Australian man who was found guilty of online sexual exploitation of children. He has been sentenced to 14.5 years in jail after paying almost a half a million dollars to exploit Filipino children sexually online. Please continue to pray for the fifteen victims rescued in this case, and that his conviction will bring them peace and comfort as they continue the road of healing. Meanwhile in India, a sex trafficker was sentenced to seven years in prison for exploiting women and girls, and a brothel was permanently closed in Mumbai, releasing the survivors of sex trafficking who are now receiving rehabilitation at an aftercare shelter.
Brutal heatwaves are causing millions of people to struggle. Temperatures hit a record 49.2C (120.5F) in Delhi in its fifth heatwave since March. Officials in many parts of India are asking people to take precautions, as temperatures are set to remain high and could cause health concerns for the elderly, infants and people with chronic diseases. Pray for farmers whose wheat harvests have been affected. Pray for the poor who have fewer ways of keeping cool and fewer options to stay inside, away from the heat. They have to work outside during the hottest hours. Pray for the children in rural areas where schools are in sheds with tin roofs - unbearable in the heat. There are places in India where the temperature itself may not be that high, but when combined with high humidity, life is very difficult. These record heatwaves are a dramatic example of climate change: see
Release International reports, ‘With all eyes on Russia’s assault on Ukraine, we will be watching closely to see how Russia is treating Christians of faiths other than Russian Orthodox.’ The USCIRF has long criticised the Taliban for their extremist policies. Its 2022 report warns, ‘Afghans who do not adhere to the Taliban’s harsh and strict interpretation of Sunni Islam and adherents of other faiths or beliefs are in grave danger. With the Taliban’s return to power, religious freedom conditions in Afghanistan, and the overall human rights situation, have significantly deteriorated. Christian converts (and other minorities) practise their faith in hiding due to fear of reprisal and threats from the Taliban.’ Also religious persecution in India has taken a significant turn for the worse. In Nigeria there is an anti-Christian dimension to much of the violence which the government is failing to control.
Last week a Christian pastor was arrested on false charges of conversion activities in Uttar Pradesh and tortured for 24 hours. ‘I could not walk out of the police station. My two legs were swollen badly. There was so much pain. I could not move from one place to the other. Whenever there was a phone call about my arrest, the police increased the intensity of lashes with the belt and sticks. They beat me on three occasions while demanding I say “Jai Sriram” (Glory to Lord Rama).’ Local sources said the pastor and his family were visiting relatives and worshipping with them when a police van arrived after a neighbour complained. The police abused the family and arrested the pastor and his uncle. They took turns physically torturing them at the police station. At midnight his uncle was released when officers learned he was not a Christian.
A congregation of 100 Christians celebrating a Maundy Thursday service in Uttar Pradesh’s Fathepur District were threatened by a radical Hindu mob who surrounded the church and subsequently locked the doors. A First Information Report was lodged against 36 of the Christians on alleged forced conversion charges based on Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion laws after the mob’s leader, Himanshu Dikshit, complained that the church was working to convert Hindus to the Christian faith. Most of the congregation were freed from the locked church, but the 36 remained in jail until the wider Christian community raised their bail amount. One of the congregation said, ‘This is a perfect portrayal of Jesus’ suffering 2,000 years ago. We know Jesus endured, and we will.’
26 pastors have been explicitly named and included in written threats. A Christian leader from a nearby city said other Christians in the area have also received threats, but still gather for worship, saying, ‘This is God’s work and we will not deny Him. It is difficult, we must face these things. Please pray that we are not discouraged.’ Police have not taken action and are not interested in pursuing those who attack or kill believers. Sometimes the police side with the persecutors. Please pray for the 26 named pastors to be protected from harm. Their names can’t be shared for security reasons, but God knows them. Pray for all Christian leaders in India to receive God’s love and strength, and continue to be resilient in their faith and witness as the attacks against Christian leaders increase daily. Even if they don’t kill in all the cases, the injuries are serious and long-lasting.