India (MNN) — The
"wheels of justice" turn slowly in India.
Eight Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India partners in India face
a trial on December 14. Mission India
President Dave Stravers says, "Because of the opposition of people and the
influence some of these extremists have with the courts, their court date has
been postponed again and again. More
than a year later, they're still waiting to be relieved of these charges."
There was faint hope that a judge would throw out the
Karnataka case in which the team was accused of "inciting communal violence and
bribing people to become Christians" in August 2009 during a 3-day training
session for the Children's Bible Club program. Stravers adds that "both of those accusations are ridiculous
since they were sleeping at the time they were attacked, so they weren't
The months of delay, while not a direct threat, intimidates through inconvenience and expense.
"Once a month, they have to go report to the court. It's quite expensive and quite intrusive for
them," says Stravers. What it reveals is that "the
strategy is to encourage Christian workers to stop witnessing, to stop their
work. We're asking people to pray that
God will give courage and perseverance to all of the thousands of workers in
India who are working in the face of this opposition."
That seems to be an item of note in the International
Religious Freedom Report 2010, just released by the U.S. State Department. It says that while legal protections against
violations of religious freedom exist, corruption impacts how the laws are
Stravers takes it a step further. He says Hindu leaders feel like they're
losing their economic and political control of India. "They're warning the followers of their
political parties, saying, ‘If the church continues to grow like it is now,
Hinduism will become a minority religion within our lifetime; so we have to put
a stop to this now.'"
That means there's an openness to the Gospel, a fast-growing
church, and more roadblocks. "In many of the states, local laws have been
passed trying to discourage conversion, or require registering with police
before baptism–all kinds of very intrusive laws that are designed to intimidate
people or open them up to informal pressure."
Now is their time. Stravers says they have waiting lists of
people who want to participate in their literacy, Bible Club, and other outreach
programs. They're limited by
resources, however. Here are links to help them move forward.