(Reading time: 2 - 3 minutes)
Worship in India - Photo: VOMC
Pray that believers will be reminded that the “Prince of Peace” abides with them in their suffering.

Churches in the Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh, India, are voicing concerns after the Hindu nationalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad issued a document demanding the cancellation of all meetings held "for conversions and activities of this type." On November 22nd, hundreds of Hindu activists attended a rally to condemn what they allege are mass conversion activities by Christians among tribal people in the district.

Madhya Pradesh is governed by the Hindu nationalist BJP party, which enacted more stringent anti-conversion legislation in early 2021. District authorities have stated that all events for the purpose of conversion are to be banned, prompting churches in the area to cancel various services. Throughout the past month, many churches have cancelled Sunday prayer meetings due to false allegations that their Christian gatherings are promoting conversion activities.

"Our members are facing atrocities but, instead of providing protection, the administration is supporting the organization," states a concerned spokesperson for the Roman Catholic archdiocese. The government, however, denies these claims. The Jhabua district magistrate counters this concern by issuing the following statement: "There is no ban on organizing prayer meetings. If someone has any issue, or members of the Christian community are feeling unsafe, they can file a complaint."

As Christmas approaches, concerns of heightened persecution against Christians are valid. Since Christianity typically becomes more prominent in society during the holidays, followers of Jesus around the world may be at greater risk of targeted acts of violence. "People don't like that some people are Christians and celebrating the birth of Jesus,” explains a believer identified as Erik. "So they want to deter that as much as possible."

At Christmastime in 2008, horrific violence broke out against Christians in the Kandhamal district of Odisha State, leading to mass destruction and killings. In 2018, at least 18 incidents were reported in four different Indian states. For further information, and/or to review reports on more recent incidences of persecution, read this report.

In light of the opposition their congregations are presently facing, may the church leaders in Jhabua receive God's wisdom so they can determine the best course of action going forward. Additionally, pray that the country's governing authorities will represent all citizens fairly by ensuring their right for 'freedom of belief' without the risk of threat or violence. May this Christmas season be a time when the people of India will come to understand the true meaning of "peace on earth," as proclaimed by God's angelic messengers (Luke 2:14).