India (MNN) — The promise of a New Year may hold much to anticipate, but lessening the persecution of Christians in India isn’t one of them.
In looking at the situation facing Indian Christians, Laura Dudley Jenkins from Duke University School of Law states, “Recent calls by Indian politicians for more legislation to control ‘organized conversions’ emphasize contemporary, foreign influences and tend to ignore India's longstanding Christian communities.”
But how are these conversions controlled by the government of India? One example of unjust persecution by the government happened just two weeks ago when Pastor Matthew in Madhya Pradesh was arrested by the police for baptizing several people. A group of Hindu fundamentalists were upset by the actions of this pastor and pressured the police into the arrest.
“[Baptism] is now being looked at by many in India as a criminal offense,” says Don Edwards of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India. “Even though this Pastor Matthew had said these people [were baptized] of their own free will, [the police are] looking at this as fraudulent conversion.”
Despite persisting anger toward Christians in India, believers don’t respond in a way expected. “There’s no revenge in their attitude whatsoever, and they realize that they need strength to be able to withstand, stand firm, and respond in a kind way to those that are harming them,” Edwards states.
Please pray that the issue facing Pastor Matthews would be solved amicably, that he would be judged well by the government officials, and that his faith would be strengthened.
This is just one of many cases where believers are arrested or given severe limitations because of the anti-conversion laws. Despite these obstacles, the church in India is seeing growth.
Mission India provides training for church planters in India. Edwards shares a story of one man who came out of Mission India’s training program 20 years ago with the goal to plant 200 churches. As of last October, this man has now planted 3,000 churches in India.
The mission statement for this church planter accurately outlines Indian Christians’ approach to the Great Commission no matter the cost. “Let every church produce another church; let every believer produce another believer; let every worker produce another worker every year.”