Violence in India (more info)
Upon a closer read of "Anti Christian Violence in Narayanpur and Kondagaon in Bastar, Chhattisgarh," we have discovered the following information:
-many of the Christians of the area were converted to Christianity from their native Adivasi culture and religion, because they were healed of a medical condition through prayer. As the article says, "All the 'converts' spoke about adopting the Church after they were cured of some medical ailment by the prayers offered in the Church. Far as we could tell, no actual medical treatments were administered to any convert." Only Jesus can truly heal!
-many of the villagers who converted to Christianity had experienced some form of opposition, but not to the extent that it has been happening in the past few months.
-the writer of the article believes that the violence has increased in large part due to a rally held by Adivasi leaders in April 2022, which was "formed with the explicit purpose of opposing conversion of Adivasis to Muslim or Christian faith." During the rally, the Adivasi people of the region were exhorted to violence and political abuse towards Christians. There is a strong move to 'delist' converts from the Adivasi religion to Christianity or Islam, as it represents "to remove the Adivasis who have converted to Muslim or Christian faiths from the rolls of 'Scheduled Tribes' and deny them the benefits of reservations for educational institutions and public employment." In other words, there is great pressure to remove the human rights from converts, since they have abandoning the "traditional gods and goddesses."
--this rally, and other meetings gathering youth, etc. "openly advocated violence against Adivasis who have adopted other faiths." The meeting in April, (which from the picture below, seems to have had in attendance several hundred people) it should be noted, had as its slogan, "Roko, Toko, Thoko," which has the following explanation:
"exhorting the Adivasis to first, prevent their brethren from going to a different faith (Roko, literally – stop them); if they don’t listen, the next step is to nag or harass them (toko, literally – nag them); and if they still don’t stop, then the advice is to beat them up (thoko, literally – hammer them)."
-the testimony of one man, interviewed by the author of the article:
"Most people had faced some level of opposition from the rest of the village for choosing to join the Church even earlier. But these were isolated incidents and had resolved themselves over time. One person told us that eight years ago, he had beaten in front of the entire village for abandoning his traditional gods and goddesses. But after that incident, he had faced no violence till now, when he had been beaten on three different Sundays in November, before being forced out of the village in December. Another said that the village had raised an objection with the revenue authorities when he had decided to build a Prayer Hall on his privately owned land. But nothing came of that letter, and his Prayer Hall was erected long ago. Every now and then, the churchgoers would be given “samjhaish” (strong advice) by the village to return to the fold of traditional Adivasi Gods and Goddesses, but there had been few instances of violence up until now."
It is easy to think that violence against Christians, and martyrdom is a thing of the past- perhaps the Acts of the Apostles or the days of the Roman coliseum, or even the days of the Canadian martyrs, and yet, according to Open Doors USA, "today, Christian persecution is worse than any other time in modern history. It is the global issue of our day." (link) It is estimated that 16 Christians are murdered every day for their belief in Christ (link) and one out of every seven Christians are persecuted. (link)
Thanks be to God, the situation in Narayanpur and surrounding regions has not escalated to killings, but this is not true for other parts of India. Ranked number 10 most dangerous place to be a Christian on the Open Doors "World Watch List," martyrdom is not foreign to the Christians of India. See below the story of the martyrdom of a 16-year-old boy, Samaru....
The first evangelist to India, the Apostle Thomas, said to have died in Kerala, was martyred.
According to Open Doors USA:
- "There are 68.9 million Christians in India. This is just about five per cent of the population, which is almost 1.4 billion people."
- "The persecution of Christians in India is intensifying as Hindu extremists aim to cleanse the country of their presence and influence.
The driving force behind this is Hindutva, an ideology that disregards Indian Christians and other religious minorities as true Indians because they have allegiances that lie outside India. It asserts that the country should be purified of their presence." (all from: link)
From Release International:
"Release partners report that attacks against Christians are continuing to gather momentum in India. In a recent attack a 16-year-old boy was stoned to death by Hindu militants because of his faith in Christ.
Kendukuda Village, Odisha, was hard ground for the gospel. Under the ministry of Pastor Kosha Mosaki, three families converted to Christianity three years ago – incurring the wrath of Hindu extremists.
Samaru Madkami was one of those who gave his life to Jesus. A teenager from a poor background, his mother died when he was a child and his father had to bring up Samaru and his two sisters alone.
Though still a schoolboy, Samaru took over running Sunday services at Bethel House Church, after militants threatened the pastor. Then the Hindu nationalists turned their threats on him. (picture: Samaru Madkami, martyred, aged 16. from Voice of the Martyrs Korea)
On June 4, while his father was away, militants barged into his house and seized Samaru, along with two other church members. As they were taking them to the mountains, the two older Christians managed to escape, but the militants forced Samaru to the ground. His body was later found partially buried. He had been crushed by stones and cut to pieces." (link)
It reminds us of the stoning of St. Stephen, one of the first 7 deacons, whose feast we celebrated recently:
"Now hearing these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed with their teeth at him. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said: Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. And they crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and with one accord ran violently upon him. And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, invoking, and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling on his knees, he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord. And Saul was consenting to his death." (Acts 7:54-60)
Stephen's death, though violent, and at the hands of Saul, was a seed that eventually resulted in the conversion of Saul. Jesus said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone. But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it and he that hateth his life in this world keepeth it unto life eternal." (Jn. 12:24-25) May the Lord strengthen the witness of the Christians of India...and all Christians throughout the world. As one person commented on our YouTube video- "May the Lord Jesus be with us all and also forgive all of them. Lord please give us strength to stand for You firm in these time of persecution. Amen."
Hostility towards Christianity is not only increasing in India and other far-off places...it is increasing in North America, as well, although it is disguised... In Medjugorje, Lee Anne heard Fr. Jozo Zovko say, concerning the massacres in Yugoslavia in the 1990's:
May the witness of Christian martyrs, such as Samaru, only 16, and their prayers for us from Heaven from the "great cloud of witnesses," (Heb. 12:1) stir us up to be set on fire with God's love, and zeal for evangelization, unafraid to pressures of any kind to love and promote Jesus in our world today. Lord Jesus, Strengthen the witness of all Christians to love not their own lives unto death! "And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of the testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death." (Rev. 12:11, emph. mine)
In response to the call for prayer from Archbishop Thakur, let us pray:
"Lord Jesus, help our persecuted brothers and sisters in India to stand strong in their faith and shine as stars in their local communities. Continue to manifest Your love and power through healings and miracles. Guard Your children from harm and equip them for the challenges they face. Provoke social media companies to do more to combat the use of their platforms to spread disinformation and hatred. Soften the hearts of influential local leaders and officials towards Christians, so that greater protection is given to them. Amen." (link)
In the love of Christ,
Daniel Devine, M. Div. lambseekers.com