Urgent Prayers for India

Dear friends of AD2000 & Beyond:

Please pray for God's people in India. The Church is growing. People all over the country are coming to the Lord in the midst of growing persecution.

On December 30, 1998 I received a letter from the Coordinator, United Prayer Track, Mission Calcutta, about a campaign of violence starting Christmas Day 1998.

The enclosed report summary of Nov 30 by the Editors at Religion Today speaks of Christian suffering in India is the worst in 50 years.

A third item for prayer is the summary report of a Militant Hindu Secret Planning Meeting Held Dec 13-18, 1998.

Please share this e-mail and concern with Christians around the world.

Luis Bush
International Director
AD2000 & Beyond Movement

Dear Bro. Luis:

This is an urgent prayer request for our nation.

Starting from Christmas Day, the two armed wings of our fundamentalist Hindu party -BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY- now in power of our national (federal) government, the VISWA HINDU PARISHAD (VHP) and the BAJRANG DAL have unleashed a reign of terror on Christians and Christian Churches, specially in the western Indian state of GUJARAT. A number of Churches have been burnt down and Christians attacked during the worship on Christmas Day.

The VHP has declared that they have launched a countrywide campaign to "counteract the program of Christian Churches for evangelization of India". In one of the Churches they planted a saffron (Hindu) flag.

You are already aware that on December 4, Christians all over the country observed a day of fasting and protest against the previous attacks, including the gang rape of nuns and the burning of Bibles. It is unbelievable that this is happening in India (even as we watch the incidents in Indonesia).

Please pray for peace, God's grace to endure, and also that there will be the necessary pressure on the Indian Government to take appropriate steps to stop these atrocities and also take punitive actions against the perpetuators of these incidents.

Coordinator, United Prayer Track
Mission Calcutta

by the Editors at ReligionToday.com

November 30, 1998

Christian suffering in India is the worst in 50 years

Persecution of Christians in India is reported to be at its highest level in 50 years. Mobs of religious fanatics have attacked churches and Christian schools, dispersed outdoor gospel meetings, and beaten evangelists in dozens of incidents this year.

...Oppression is widespread, a person with contacts in the country told Religion Today. There have been at least 33 incidents of violence in 11 of India's 25 states in 1998, much of it in Gujarat, a predominantly Hindu state that lies in west-central India, he said.

...Churches have been burned in the villages of Bhapkal, Singana, Lahan Kadmad, and Borkhal, the Los Angeles Times said. An Orthodox school in Naroda was attacked for failing to teach Sanskrit, the language of Hindu literature. A gang of Hindus invaded a Christian girls' school in Rajkot and burned its Bibles. In Naroda, 400 people used tractors and crowbars to destroy a Catholic church.

...The government's goal of making India a Hindu state is the cause of increased persecution, many believe. Attacks on Christians rose after the radical Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party came to national power eight months ago. The BJP, whose slogan is "one nation, one people, one culture," has called Christianity a foreign religion and a holdover from the colonial era. The BJP came to power with promises to make India a world power by uniting its people under Hinduism and developing nuclear arms. Prime Minister Shri Bajpayee is a member, as are several top ministers in the ruling government.

...National opposition to Christianity has emboldened state governments. "They feel more comfortable persecuting Christians on the local level because there is no fear of reprisals," the person with contacts in the country told Religion Today. Some states have passed anti-conversion laws, and violence against Christians is seldom prosecuted. Attacks have been organized and led by government leaders, witnesses say. "There is a pattern to these attacks and I am convinced that they are being orchestrated from above," said John Dayal of the All India Catholic Union.

...Christianity is spreading into northern India. The apostle Thomas is said to have brought Christianity to southern India 2,000 years ago, but the church's influence thins in the central regions. In some northern states there may be "one Christian for every 22 million people," the person with contacts in the country said. Christian evangelists and others are bringing the gospel to these areas for the first time. The areas are Hindu "political and spiritual strongholds," so the persecution is greater, he said. "Workers are constantly told to leave or be killed. Leaders have a price on their heads from anti-Christian groups."

...The workers trust God for their protection. They "take the threats before the Lord in fasting and prayer and ask Him to protect them." Christians have been beaten, tortured with razor blades, and thrown from a speeding train, and six to 12 per year are martyred, he said.

...Hundreds of tribal people in a section of northern India are becoming Christians through the efforts of evangelists. The area is known for violent tribal clashes. "It is the greatest revival we know of at this time," he said. "You don't get this kind of revival without persecution, and bloodshed, and martyrdom. One comes with the other."

Militant Hindu Secret Planning Meeting Held Dec 13-18, 1998

The National Executive Committee of RSS which met at Nagpur on 13th December 1998 for five days, condemned the Chrisitan missionaries as spreading false information that the RSS and VHP were attacking Christians. It also accused the church of having hatched the global conspiracy, evangelisation 2000 and beyond for religious conversion. This RSS contemplation camp was held after 12 years and was attended by about 400 key leaders of the organisations and sister institutions. The meeting was held in complete secrecy with the media kept at a distance and all the participants remaining in-communicado. (Hindu, 15th December 1998)

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