India (MNN) — In several countries with minority Christian populations, believers now face a choice: recant their Christian faith or face starvation as COVID-19 aid is withheld.
Greg Kelley from World Mission says Christians in India regularly face religious discrimination, often from Hindu nationalists. “Just last week, as a matter of fact, we heard that two of our pastors were beaten quite extensively by some Hindu extremists. And it totally goes unpunished because the local authorities are not really stepping up. They don’t do anything about it because Hinduism is the majority religion. (It would be) tattling on your friends, so to speak. It just doesn’t happen. And Christians are the ones who suffer the most.”
COVID-19 has made daily life harder in India. Many live in poverty and anxiety even in normal circumstances, but under lockdown, it’s even worse. Kelley says, “If someone’s caught outside, they’re beaten, thrown in prison. And if you’re Christian, you’re given all the less grace as you’re trying to provide for your family.”
Growth of the Gospel in India
Kelley says India has the largest Hindu population on Earth and is on pace to have the largest Muslim population as well in the next 25 years. “Every follower of Jesus should be aware of [this] . . . because there are more people in that country that don’t have access to the Gospel than any other country in the world.”
It’s a huge task, says Kelly, but through the Church, God is already making headway. “Uttar Pradesh, the [most populous] state in India, if it were a country, it would be the fifth-most-populous country in the world. Statistically, there’s zero percent Christians . . . and I can say that that statistic is actually not true because we’re seeing churches planted [there].”
One way Christians are making progress in India is by reaching people that no one else will reach. Kelley says, “We’re doing ministry among blind people in leper colonies where no one is going. We hear amazing stories of how people are coming to Christ.” Oftentimes these are the people going out and proclaiming the Gospel to India and planting churches.
You can help this work financially by giving to World Mission. Kelley says you can help 100 people hear the Gospel for the first time for only $40.
And pray that Christ’s kingdom would continue growing in India and that more and more outcasts would serve Jesus as king.
The header image shows a Hindu statue in India. (Image by Harikrishnan Mangayil from Pixabay)