Christmas celebrations in 2018 were under threat in many areas of India, as widespread attacks on Christians by Hindu extremists increased dramatically.
“We had to completely stop all our church activities, including Christmas carols,” said Pastor Sam P. Jacob in Uttar Pradesh.
He cited the unprecedented and unsubstantiated claims that Christians were working against the state, religious tolerance and India’s national ethos.
On 30 October 2018, Pastor Sam and his pregnant wife, Rajina, had been beaten by members of religious militant organisations Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal.
This new and widespread anti-Christian sentiment has terrified Christians, who were unsure if Christmas Day services would even be allowed.
Since September 2018, over 40 house churches have been closed on the pretext of maintaining peace, with the pastors threatened with arrest should they continue to hold services.
On 2 December 2018, a mob of radical Hindus disrupted a worship service led by Pastor A. B. Singh in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
They threatened the congregants and assaulted the pastor’s wife, Kalpana, as she tried to protect her husband and women in the church.
After chasing the Christians out of the hall used for the service, the mob warned Pastor Singh against holding Christian services in Kanpur.
Though the police were called to the premises and promised to investigate the incident, they had not taken any action as of the middle of the month.
With the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s electoral victory in 2014, hate crimes against India’s religious minorities have increased sharply.
However, as with the anti-Christian attacks in Kanpur, government restrictions on faith and targeted violence are rarely reported locally.
In fact, while the government’s own statistics confirm a 28 percent increase in communal violence from 2014 to 2017, police action appears to have been focused against the minority Christian population (2.3 percent or 24 million).
The BJP and its associated radical Hindu groups have also sought to stoke religious tensions with the Muslim minority (13.4 percent or 138 million), especially before elections.
HOME GROUP PRAYER
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10–12 ESV.
As this year draws to a close, we come before you, LORD, united in prayer for our fellow Christians in your land of India.
Our hearts are saddened, LORD, at the ever-increasing targeted persecution which they are suffering at the hands of their non-believing neighbours.
We see, LORD, that much of this persecution of religious minorities is for political and self-gain, at the expense of those who cannot defend themselves.
We pray, Father, that your mighty right hand will be outstretched over India, to limit the persecution of your children at this time.
We pray also, Father, for your justice for all the religious minorities in India, such that all Christians may be free to worship and honour and praise you together, without fear.
We pray, Father, also for the leaders of India, and in particular the leaders and members of the BJP, that they would come to know you as we know you, and that you will become the Lord of their lives also.
We pray this, Heavenly Father, in the mighty name of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen and Amen and Amen!
Materials used by kind permission of the original author.