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22 September 2016

Three Christians attacked as persecution continues to rise in India

Three Christians attacked as persecution continues to rise in India

We have today heard reports coming from India of Christians who were attacked by a mob for handing out Christian literature. Pastor Prashant Bhatnagar, aged 45, and two others from his church were distributing Christian literature in the city of Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra. They were physically attacked and threatened with more violence if they continued to hand out leaflets. One of the three had to be treated in hospital.

After the Alliance last reported on persecution in this country in 2013, reports of persecutions of Christians have continued to increase. Depending on the region of the country, there has been intolerance showed to Christians mostly by Hindu groups, although there have been attacks from Muslims and other religions.

The most memorable and horrific crime of intolerance in recent years was the murder of Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in 1999. The car they were sleeping in deliberately set on fire by a Hindu extremist militant, Dara Singh.

In its controversial annual human rights reports for 1999, the United States Department of State criticised India for "increasing societal violence against Christians." The report listed over 90 incidents of anti-Christian violence, ranging from damage of religious property to violence against Christians pilgrims.

In early 2015, prime minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch about his government's commitment to maintaining peace and religious harmony and said that his government will strongly act against acts of religious violence. [1] However Christian Today reports:

"Attacks on Christians and their places of worship have skyrocketed since 2014, when the Hindu nationalists BJP took power in the federal government. Many claim that the ruling party's Hindu nationalist platform and the government's inability or unwillingness to confront religious intolerance are major contributing factors to the rise in attacks on Christians."[2]

Yet, there is still good news. According to other research that has been conducted, Christianity is rapidly increasing in this country, despite this horrific persecution:

"Missiologist and church growth expert C. Peter Wagner has been receiving reports that the percentage (of Christians) may actually be 25% Christian…most of the growth coming in the past 10 to 15 years. And the growth may not all be in traditional churches. A substantial part may come from Jesus-follower groups within the Hindu culture."[3]

Points for prayers:

· That missionaries in this country would be protected and be effective in their ministry.

· That the Church would continue to grow, and that the gospel would reach the poorest and most marginalised of people.

· For protection of those being persecuted; that they would have peace and hope.

Image: CC AChilli Family Journeys

[1] http://www.persecutionrelief.org/
[2] http://www.christiantoday.com/article/three.christians.attacked.in.india.for.distributing.christian.literature/95936.htm
[3] http://www.joyfulheart.com/misc/growth-of-christianity-in-india.htm