It’s true that the support of the worldwide church has long been a blessing to our Indian brothers and sisters. It’s thanks to believers like you, committed to pray and give gifts, that persecuted Christians in India have the strength, encouragement and resources they need to go on.
Now, as Rajesh* and others face new dangers, your prayerful support is more vital than ever. Persecution may not be new to Christians in India, but it is certainly intensifying. The Covid-19 restrictions have left some of the most isolated and vulnerable Christians starving, cut off from their families and turned away from their community care systems.
At the same time, Hindu nationalism is rising in India. Community elders discriminate against Christians, putting them last in the line for aid or preventing access to jobs, schools and other essential services.
Photo: Open Doors partners like Rajesh deliver essential supplies and Bibles.
Hearing God’s call
Rajesh says, “The forms of persecution that Indian Christians often encounter are both physical and mental. Sometimes they are even abused.
In some cases, the assault goes so far as to kill someone.” In recent years, Rajesh has also seen a new form of persecution emerge: young girls and women are attacked to teach their father or a pastor a lesson. Even children are not safe.
Hearing God’s call Rajesh has dedicated his life to serving his Indian brothers and sisters who suffer for their faith. He first heard God’s call as a teenager, when he asked God, “How do you want my life to be a blessing to others?” Over the next ten years, he felt God call him to serve the persecuted church. It wasn’t long before he experienced the danger of persecution himself.
He was visiting a pastor who had been beaten for his faith. “He was very beaten, but he was not in pain. That was so wonderful to see,” says Rajesh. But as he left the pastor’s house, people stared. His car had been daubed with paan, a red-coloured chewing tobacco. The pastor urged him to leave, quickly. Motorcycles formed a blockade, trying to stop the car. “They wanted us to get out so they could beat us up. They chased us for miles,” says Rajesh. By God’s grace, he escaped. Yet he knew he’d been called to a life of risk.
Pastors beaten, churches burned
Pastors beaten, churches burned In the course of his ministry, Rajesh has met families who have lost loved ones, pastors who had been beaten up or whose churches have burned down. He’s met people who have been expelled from their village, people who have suffered false charges or who have been in prison. All because of their faith in the Lord Jesus.
Yet Rajesh doesn’t find persecution surprising. He knows that God is at work even in the darkest circumstances, and he’s encouraged by the persecuted Christians he meets. Their steadfastness, their faith, their passion for Jesus Christ, their love and their loyalty to the Lord God inspire him again and again.
“Living as a Christian is a risky life,” he says. “Through persecution, the Lord God grows His church.” For Rajesh, his work doesn’t feel like work; it is a labor of love for Jesus Christ. “It gives me joy to serve the persecuted church,” he says.
“For when you serve the persecuted church, you serve the Lord God.”
*Name changed for security reasons
Every Php 2550 could provide emergency items like flour, rice, tea, salt, oil, potatoes, soap, and masks to last a family a month.
If you want to pray for India, pray for the members of house churches. These churches often have no trained pastor. They often don’t know how to deal with persecution, but God’s grace is enough for them, too.”