India (MNN) — Christian groups in India are still trying to navigate the fallout from a law passed two months ago. John Pudaite of Bibles For The World reminds us the law passed with no clear instructions.
“The FCRA Amendment [Act] 2020 blindsided everybody: all the non-profit organizations, ministries, and charities working in India that have a foreign contribution that comes into them,” Pudaite says.
“It was pushed through the Indian Parliament in a couple of days, and it was signed into law five [or] six days later.”
More about the FCRA Amendment Act 2020 here. Essentially, the amendments tighten restrictions on groups receiving foreign funds. Ministries that do not meet the new requirements could face fines or worse. Authorities began enforcing these changes immediately.
“We’ve seen quite a number of ministries go under investigation and get kicked out of India,” Pudaite says.
One new FCRA requirement funnels all foreign funding through a single government bank in New Delhi. “That’s pretty scary for Christian organizations who have faced a lot of persecution [and] a lot of investigations and inquiries by the government,” Pudaite explains.
“Presumably, at the press of one button, they (government officials) could lock all those accounts and we would not have access to that money.”
Senior leaders from Bibles For The World met recently with local partners for planning and encouragement. “It was a ‘one-two punch’ between COVID and this FCRA bill,” Pudaite says.
“It demoralized a lot of our partners, and [they were] feeling under attack.”
Find your place in the story
Ask the Lord to give Bibles For The World leaders and partners the wisdom and discernment they need to comply with new requirements. Pray believers will fix their eyes upon Jesus and not the troubles around them. Learn more about Bibles For The World here.
Not only does the ministry need to meet India’s standards, “we need to be above and beyond that because we serve a much higher power than any national government. We serve the Lord through this ministry,” Pudaite notes.
Pray for courage and strength to overcome these challenges. “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, of love and a sound mind,” Pudaite says, describing 2 Timothy 1:7 as a significant source of encouragement in light of 2020 trials.
“The fear in us is not coming from the Lord. This is coming from the enemy, and is part of his strategy to demoralize us [and] deter us from doing what God’s called us to do.”
Previously, nonprofits receiving foreign funding under FCRA needed to create a bank account at any government-approved bank. Under the amended FCRA, all nonprofits must create and solely use a new account with the State Bank of India at New Delhi. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons; caption: Council on Foundations)