India is listed as the the 11th most dangerous country to follow Jesus on the 2018 World Watch List by the non profit organization Open Doors. India rose from number 15 on the 2017 World Watch list to 11th this year. The reason for the rising on the list has much to do with the increased persecution. While this persecution may vary in different regions, it is still widespread over much of India.
The source of this persecution is mostly from radical Hindu groups. As we covered in previous blog posts, Hinduism is the largest religion in India and many of these radical Hindu groups use violence to try to cleanse areas of both Christians and Muslims. While the government of India does not endorse violence, the governing Hindu leaders often take a hands off approach. The North Indian state of Uttarkhand is the 7th state in India that has passed legislation restricting religious conversions from Hinduism to Christianity. The penalty can be a jail term of up to 2 years.
A great deal of pressure is put on Christians to return to the Hindu beliefs. In many villages persecution includes beatings, loss of jobs, loss of homes and being outcast by friends and families. There are also several reports of Christians being killed for their faith in Jesus, but exact numbers are hard to know. While this type of persecution seems foreign to most Christians in America, it is all too common in India.
The persecution and trials that Christians in India are facing is much like what we see in early church in the Book of Acts, where Christians were being persecuted and killed for their faith in Jesus Christ. It is also described in 1 Peter 4:12, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.“
While many of us do not currently face this type of persecution, as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I encourage you to pray for God’s provision and protection for Christians in India. Pray that the name of Jesus would be exalted in India in the midst of violence and persecution. If you would also like to help support the Gospel ministry in India through contributions to Epaphroditus for our Gospel partner in India, Grace Christian Ministries (GCM), you can use this link to donate now.