Despite a 2021 Pew Research Center survey finding the majority of Indians believe it is “very important to respect all religions,” India has tragically become a dangerous place for Christians.
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The nation ranks as the 10th most risky nation in the world for believers, according to Open Doors USA’s 2022 World Watch List, which ranks countries where persecution is most prevalent.
“The persecution of Christians in India is intensifying as Hindu extremists aim to cleanse the country of their presence and influence,” the World Watch List explained. “The driving force behind this is Hindutva, an ideology that disregards Indian Christians and other religious minorities as true Indians because they have allegiances that lie outside India, and asserts the country should be purified of their presence.”
Open Doors recently shared the heartbreaking and inspiring story of an Indian pastor who was detained, brutally beaten, and driven from his ministry and home.
Pastor Shekhar, whose name was changed to protect his identity, shared how police confronted him and others after they gathered to pray and fast for the sick.
“While we were praying, policemen came. They stopped the meeting and started to threaten us,” the pastor told Open Doors USA. “It was at this moment I realized that our time of persecution has come.”
Shekhar said police took their Bibles and demanded they head to the local station. That’s when the situation worsened, as the group was beaten and tortured; Shekhar was so severely harmed his eardrums burst.
Throughout the ordeal, though, he clung to Christ.
“I got scared when I was tortured, beaten, and abused by people,” he said. “But in the midst of it, I remembered God’s promises: He has promised to not leave us as orphans, but will keep us and sustain us.”
Once Shekhar was released, the cops demanded he leave town or face re-arrest. Cops allegedly intimidated his landlord as well, forcing him and his family to flee.
They lost not only their home but also their church community. The incident still has Shekhar and his family reeling and in pain as they recollect all that unfolded.
But despite the horror, he won’t back down from the calling Jesus has on his life.
“I’ll keep serving God till my last breath, even in happiness or sadness, even if I have to suffer greatly or slightly, even if I have to give my life for God,” Shekhar said. “I cannot stop serving God. I cannot live without serving God, because I’ve surrendered my whole life to Him.”
Read the full story here to see how Open Doors USA has served and helped Shekhar and his family.
CBN’s Faithwire has consistently reported on India’s persecution problems. In 2020, a pastor was reportedly told to stop worshipping inside his home and was forced to sign a document assuring he would halt such practices.
And in 2021, Hindu nationalist leaders held an anti-Christian rally advocating for violence against Bible-believers. One individual proclaimed, “Let us drag people from the church and stop conversions at any cost.” Another added, “We will frighten Christians who are involved in conversion work in the region. We will not allow the missionary work to be carried on in Bastar and will protect the Hindu religion by stopping the conversions.”
Pastors like Shekhar have consistently spoken — sometimes on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution — about the dire circumstances inside India.
India’s persecution conundrum comes amid shifting tides on the persecution front.
Open Doors USA CEO David Curry told CBN’s Faithwire earlier this year that the 2022 World Watch List showed a seismic shift in persecution.
“This year’s 2022 World Watch List, we think, is the biggest seismic shift in over 20 years, because Afghanistan is now the No. 1 country on the World Watch List, supplanting North Korea,” he said.
Read more about that here.
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