India (MNN) — A pastor in Madhya Pradesh, India was recently arrested for hosting a prayer meeting. A case has now been filed against him by police, who claim he was forcing conversions.
Pastor K* was holding a prayer regular prayer meeting. There was no evangelistic agenda to the meeting, but some non-believers were there. In the middle of the meeting, Hindu extremists stormed in and took everyone to the police. Police arrested Pastor K, detaining him for a week. Christians were let go.
"The non-Christians they took into another location," says Dave Stravers of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India. "They gave them all money and basically forced them to sign a statement saying that Pastor K was forcing them to convert. The word used there if force. There's an anti-conversion law in many states of India that says you cannot force a person to change his religion."
These signed statements gave police (who, Stravers notes, clearly had some sort of plans with the Hindu extremists who stormed the prayer meeting) the leverage to file a case against Pastor K. Since then, the media has picked up the story, accusing other Christians of forcing conversion as well.
"So you've got the media, the police, the violent extremists all trying to stop what's happening in Madhya Pradesh," says Stravers.
Stravers notes that "what's happening" is the spread of the Gospel. People have become very receptive to the Word of God in Madhya Pradesh, and many new churches have been started there by Mission India-trained pastors.
Many staunch Hindus in the area are angry with the Christian influx. Stravers notes that persecution has happened in the past, but more often when Christians do something slightly out of the ordinary. A prayer meeting is nothing new for Madhya Pradesh churches, another factor drawing Stravers to the conclusion that this was a planned bout of persecution.
"The hope is that the media will get tired of it, and the police will realize they don't have a case, and we can resume ministry soon."
The charges brought against Pastor K have indeed stopped Mission India in their church planting efforts in Madhya Pradesh, a regrettable occurrence since 4000 people are just waiting to be trained. But if anything, this injustice has made God's movement more clear.
"This kind of persecution is really a confirmation that the Holy Spirit is active in India," says Stravers.
With this in mind, Mission India wants to continue their ministry as soon as possible. You can help by supporting Mission India to train more pastors. Click here to help.
*This pastor's name has been changed for security reasons.