India (MNN) — The amount of persecution against Christians in India continues to increase, and there's no sign of things improving.
Gospel for Asia is reporting that nearly 40 Christians were kidnapped February 27 by anti-Christian radicals in Himachal Pradesh, India. The extremists reportedly took the Christians to a religious temple and are trying to force them to renounce Christ and return to the country's dominant faith.
Gospel for Asia's Daniel Yohannan says, "They do this to try to scare people from following Christ. It's kind of like, 'If you follow Christ, this is what's going to happen to you.' But it always seems to backfire because more people get saved after the persecution."
GFA leaders in Himachal Pradesh are asking for prayer for those who were captured, that they will stand firm in their faith, even in this difficult time. They also ask for prayer for the overall situation for Christians in this northwest Indian state.
An anti-Christian political party controls Himachal Pradesh, and it is possible that the group who kidnapped these Christians is affiliated with the political party. One of this party's goals is to convert Christians to India's predominant religion. It is not unusual for these extremists to kidnap believers and force them to bow before the statues that represent the country's traditional gods. If the Christians refuse to bow to the statues, they risk being ostracized from society, which brings much shame in the Asian culture in which they live.
The extremist ruling party believes that keeping people in the traditional religion brings unity to the state and ultimately to the entire country. Since Christianity is so radically different than the other religions, a person's decision to follow Christ creates friction in families and sometimes entire villages.
Yohannan says the large number of conversions to Christianity affects the two sides differently. "I think for the persecutors it confuses them, because people do not stop following Christ. For the believers and others who are sharing the Gospel, I think it just gives them so much boldness."
The large number of conversions means they need more trained people to help with discipleship. "There's always a need for more workers to be trained and more Bible colleges to be started," says Yohannan.
Gospel for Asia President K.P. Yohannan urges Christians around the world to pray for the end of the persecution of Christians in India.