Organized violence not enough to stop Gospel work

By December 18, 2012

India (MNN) — It's not unusual to hear about persecution in India, especially in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

"In Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa–those states in what's called the 'Hindu Heartland,' there is a very organized violence against Christians, trying to stop the growth of the Church," says Dave Stravers with Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India.

However, reports of police helping Hindu extremists attack Christians in Madhya Pradesh is a little disconcerting. Usually, Stravers explains, extremists go to police before they engage in violence against believers; then when the attack is reported and police are called in, they often arrest the Christians.

"This is the first time I've heard a case that confirmed police officers were part of the attackers," Stravers says.

A church pastor told Morning Star News that at the end of November, four police officers broke into his church during worship service and ordered Christians to leave. Close behind was a mob of Hindu extremists who told the leader "Jesus' name will not work in Madhya Pradesh" and warned against future mention of His name.

"The extremists further threatened to kill us, cut off our legs, burn down our houses. and expel us from the village if we speak the name of Jesus again and conduct meetings in the future," the church leader said.

When a church member tried to file a complaint at the local police station, an officer slapped him twice in the face.

"India has been resistant to the Gospel for centuries, and just in the last 10 or 15 years, places that once [had] just no Christians at all are now open to Christ, and people are coming to Jesus," says Stravers. "This is found to be very threatening by the Hindu and some community leaders."

Believers aren't holding back, though. Stravers says hundreds of volunteers want to share the Good News through Mission India's adult literacy classes and children's Bible clubs.

"They just need the training. They need to know how to carry out the ministry, and they need the literature and materials to do it," he explains. Click here if you can help.

"We can reach a child for $1 — that's for the training and all of the materials," says Stravers. "We can reach an illiterate adult for $30 per person, bringing him from zero to fifth-grade reading level."

Pray that Great Commission work would keep moving forward despite persecution, and pray for courage for believers in India.

Stravers says, "The intention is not really to kill anyone or even to imprison them, but to stop the Message from going out; so we pray for courage."

In places like the "Hindu Heartland" where tolerance is threadbare and injustice is commonplace, Stravers says the storms of persecution only make believers tighten their grips on the Rock that is Jesus Christ.

"Their faith is increased, they're stiffened in their resolve, and if you go back 6 months later, you'll find the work is progressing even stronger than before," he explains.

Check out our Featured Links section to see how you can support and encourage believers in India.

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