US Embassy Pulls India Official’s Visa.

By March 21, 2005

India (MNN)–The US Embassy denied a visa to the Hindu nationalist chief minister of India’s Gujarat state. Narendra Modi is a leader of India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

According to the embassy, he was denied a diplomatic visa to travel to the United States and his existing tourist/business visa was revoked. Although the move has outraged the BJP, Dave Stravers, President of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India says the move came over his role in 2002 religious riots.

Human rights groups accused the state government of doing little to stop the violence. Further, the Supreme Court criticized the government’s ‘blind eye’ towards Hindus accused of killing Muslims.

The message from the US, says Stravers, is loud and clear. “There was a new Religious Freedom Act passed here in 1998, and the State Department is saying ‘We’re going to abide by this. Any person, even if he’s a government official who might be given a diplomatic visa, if he’s been shown to be involved in this kind of religious intolerance, he won’t be given a visa to come into the United States.'”

There is some concern that the outrage over the visa incident may end in anti-Western backlash that could trickle over to Christians. However, Stravers says that’s nothing new.

Rather, he hopes the move will encourage believers and church leaders in India who have faced much of the persecution. Stravers says believers catch it from both sides. They bear the brunt of persecution from both the Hindus and the Muslims in India.

For that reason, he explains, “There are many, many secret believers. People who have put their faith in Christ but they’re afraid to be baptized because they know what will happen to them and their families.”

People are open to the Gospel due to disillusionment with the past unkept promises of the government. Stravers says, “…perhaps this will be an encouragement to people to take more of a public stand when they hear the Gospel and believe it.”

Mission India remains active in church planting, children’s Bible clubs and literacy programs. At Mission India, they often say, “First we pray, then we work.” Please continue to pray for the workers as they minister on the frontlines of India.

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