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Despite persecution, Christianity continues to surge in India


Despite persecution, Christianity continues to grow in India, particularly among the lowest Caste. Photo: Ville Miettinen/Flickr/Creative Commons

Despite persecution, Christianity continues to grow in India, particularly among the lowest Caste. Photo: Ville Miettinen/Flickr/Creative Commons

Despite the rising tide of persecution against Christians around the world, reports continue to flow in on how God is continuing to move.

The latest is India where on April 17, 2016, two Hindu extremists posing as Christians approached pastor Deenbandhu Sameli seeking prayer. The pastor who was in his church in Karanji Village at the time, let the two in.

The two men turned on the pastor, beat him and forced Sameli to say “jai sri ram” a reference to the Hindu god Veshnu. The two men then poured gas over the pastor and his wife to force them to convert. However, the two were able to escape before the extremists set them on fire.

Yet despite this persecution, Christian Aid Mission (CAM) reports that God is moving in one of the most heavily persecuted provinces in India — Kandhamal Province.

Just eight years ago over 100 Christians were killed in this district by riots sparked by Hindu extremists who blamed the August 23, 2008 murder of a popular Hindu monk Laxshmananda Saraswati and four aides on Christians. Evidence showed that Maoists were the actual culprits.

According to CAM, who works with local native missionaries to spread the Gospel, Christianity is once again surging in Kanhamal, located in Eastern India.

The very jungles that Christians fled to in 2008 to escape persecution are now home to large evangelistic rallies. An unnamed CAM director says there have been 14 jungle rallies since August last year with between 1000 and 2000 people in attendance at each event.

He said, “thousands are gathering in the jungle camps in Kandhamal District to hear the living Word of God. People were happy and encouraged to live for Jesus in His Kingdom. The Lord is also doing doing great and marvelous things in the lives of those who believe in Jesus Christ.”

The 2008 Kandhamal riots marked was one of the most extreme times of Christian persecution in India so far this century.

According to The Washington Post, one of the major reasons for the persecution was the rapid growth of  Christianity in that district which had increased from just 6% of the population in 1971 to 27% in 2008.

But some suggest the antagonism was two fold. Christianity was also experiencing its greatest growth among the despised lowest caste in India society, so it was a way to put both Christianity and the lower caste back in their place.

Between August 25-28, 2007, two days after the death of the Hindu monk, thousands of Hindus armed with hammers, swords and sticks turned on the Christians — killing over 100 Christians and injuring thousands. Many Christians were killed or injured by fire and acid attacks.

The police stood back and did nothing to stop the brutality.

Over 300 churches were destroyed and 6000 christian homes destroyed. An estimated 50,000 Christians were eventually displaced and forced into refugee camps.

During the riots there were several attempts to force Christians to convert back to Hinduism. Extremists buried one Pentecostal pastor, Rajesh Digal, in dirt up to his neck to force him to recant his faith. After making Rajesh drink urine, the extremists subsequently killed the pastor with axes and clubs when he refused to turn.

In another instance, Sister Meena Barwa, a Catholic nun, was stripped of her clothes and publicly raped in the streets. The extremists then beat the local priest, Tomas Chellen, when he refused to rape her. Both survived.

Sources:

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