India (MNN) — A study shows that in 500 days, there were 1,000 attacks on Christians in India's Karnataka state alone, reports Compass Direct News.
India has not exactly been known for its peaceful attitude toward Christians, especially after several months of attacks in Orissa state in 2008. At that time, attacks were predominately made by Hindu extremists, as they appear now to be in Karnataka. Karnataka, however, never seemed a likely target for Christian persecution.
"[Karnataka] is not in that area of India where you would expect there to be as many attacks," says Dave Stravers of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India. "It's in the south; the northern part of India is where more of the radical Hindus live. One of the reasons it's not surprising, however, is that this is one of the places where the church is growing faster in India."
Ministries often report that where church growth is high, persecution is sure to follow. In this case, Christianity has become a threat to Hinduism in the region. Stravers says Mission India has found Hindu presentations which suggest that Hindu temples are closing and new churches are opening, and something must be done to stop it.
The political state of Karnataka also appears to be a reason for the average two attacks per day.
"What's happening in Karnataka is perhaps a little bit ominous because a Hindu political party has control of that state," says Stravers. "Even though these attacks are not legal attacks, nevertheless when a Hindu party gets in power, it seems to encourage the unruly elements in the country to undertake this kind of violence."
Mission India has not been unaffected by the violence. In their own ministry in Karnataka, a training session was broken up three months ago by Hindu extremists who came in and beat up many of the participants. When police came, they arrested anyone who had been beaten for inciting the violence. The believers are still obligated to show up in court once a month in the wake of the frivolous charges.
Although these particular Christians were able to share their faith while in prison, their programs did have to stop for a few weeks while things calmed down. A halt in ministry is precisely the danger in these attacks.
"The real danger is that other believers in general in the area will be intimidated to stop their work," says Stravers. "And this, in fact, is the strategy behind the attacks."
Despite all of this, the Gospel does continue to spread throughout the state. Pray that victims of the attacks in Karnataka would not be intimidated away from their ministries. Pray that they would continue to boldly preach the Word and pray for their attackers. Pray that these persecutors of Christ would, like Paul, have their eyes opened and become the most passionate for the Lord.
To learn more about Mission India's work in Karnataka and throughout the rest of the country, click here and visit their Web site.