Freedom for all?

By August 16, 2011

India (MNN) — Kite flying, flag raising and vivid displays of orange, green and white could be seen yesterday as India celebrated 65 years of freedom from British oppression.

On August 15, 1947, India celebrated its first National Independence Day with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru officially unfurling their national flag. Its colors represented hope, courage and peace within their nation.

While these ideals are praised by the country of India, many Christians within its borders still wait for the same type of peace and freedom for themselves in this overwhelmingly-Hindu population.

Lee DeYoung with Words of Hope states, "In the past couple of years, there has been some noteworthy opposition to Christianity, increases in some places in persecution, [and] violent incidents which have prompted many Christians to adopt a lower profile."

The independence gained in India changed the face of Christian missions there. "Conversion" took on a whole new political meaning, and upper caste Hindus felt threatened by the large amount of lower caste Hindus converting to Christianity.

Hindus felt the conversions were politically motivated in the wake of a newly-birthed government, and they set out to stop the "invasion" of more missionaries. Various forms of persecution range from anti-conversion laws oppressing ministry, to harassment and imprisonment of Christian workers.

But with evidence of increased oppression, there is also an increase of Christian believers in India. According to Operation World, 26 million evangelicals currently make up 2.2 percent of India's population.

In advancing the Gospel, Words of Hope ministers to Christians in some of the most oppressed regions of northern India through radio broadcast programs. DeYoung says, "We've been encouraged that in every place we've been, there seems to be an increased listenership to the programs that we sponsor."

Over 500 million people are potentially reached with Words of Hope's Hindi Gospel broadcast program. Please pray that Christians in India would start to gain political recognition and the same religious freedoms enjoyed by others in their country.

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