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Burned church in Kistaram - Photo: Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Burned remnants of the church in Kistaram.
Photo: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

In two separate incidents that took place on February 5th, church buildings in India were destroyed by those opposed to Christian ministry. One of the demolished churches was a Catholic place of prayer and hospitality that is located near the city of Mangalore, Karnataka; the other was a Protestant place of worship in the village of Kistaram, Chhattisgarh. For previous reports addressing the persecution of Christians in India, go to our country report.

St. Anthony's Holy Cross Center was built 40 years ago and served as a gathering place for the Christian community in Mangalore, as well as a means of ministry for disadvantaged families. Those seeking asylum would find solace there. However, a group of militant Hindus claimed that the structure was illegal and should be destroyed.

In an attempt to resolve the dispute, a court hearing had been scheduled for February 14th and an order was issued, stating that no one could enter the building until an official decision was reached. Ignoring the pending court hearing, the opponents arrived with a bulldozer on February 5th and proceeded to demolish the building. A police report has been filed by the church, referring to the demolition as an "illegal action" that caused "discord in a peace-loving community."

In a village located within the state of Chhattisgarh, a church building had also been destroyed. Christians in Kistaram built the former place of worship about five months ago. An estimated 100 people regularly attended prayer meetings and Bible studies in the thatched-roof building. According to sources, the station house officer from the local police station, Bhavesh Shinde, visited the church on February 3rd and demanded that the Christians stop holding prayer services. He threatened the church members by warning that, if they continued to gather for prayer, he would falsely implicate them as Naxalites, a group of radical communist rebels who are causing problems in various parts of India.

The next day, the station house officer called two villagers for a meeting at the police station, telling them to set the church building on fire. When they refused, he threatened to accuse them of being Naxalites as well. At 3:00 a.m. the next morning, the building was burned down. When church members met with the officer later that day, he allegedly smiled and warned that they would be sent to jail if they prayed there again.

The officer has refused to file a police report on the incident. Delegates from the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum have filed a complaint with the Director General of Police, asking for an investigation of the situation. The delegates have also met with the Human Rights Commission and the Minorities Commission.

Pray that justice will prevail in both cases, asking the Lord to work within the hearts and minds of those in India who are violently opposed to Christianity. May the station house officer and others responsible for the destruction of these buildings be held accountable, in hopes they will come to understand the error of their ways. Pray that the resiliency of Christians in the villages of Mangalore and Kistaram will continue to serve as unwavering examples of God's love and grace, despite the great injustices they have experienced. Finally, pray that the leaders of both churches will receive wisdom so they may discern the best way to move forward, as well as the resources required to rebuild their worship facilities.

Current Ministry Projects

VOMC VOMC assists persecuted Christians with legal support and rehabilitation assistance, and cares for children of martyrs by providing them with a safe place to be nurtured physical and spiritually. VOMC also partners to equip Christians in India with Biblical training and works to strengthen and support marginalized and persecuted Christian women. Additionally, VOMC helps to provide medical assistance to believers who have faced injuries after being attacked.”

Project Funds: Families of Martyrs, Equipping the Saints, Legal Defense, Relief and Development, Women’s Ministry, Medical Fund

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
1,339,330,514 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Indo-Aryan (72), Dravidian (25), Mongoloid and other (3)

Religion (%)
Hinduism (79.8), Muslim (14.2), Christianity (2.3), Sikh (1.7), other (2)

Leader
President Ram Nath Kovind (2017)

Government type
Federal parliamentary republic

Legal system
Based on English common law; separate personal law codes apply to Christians, Hindus and Muslims.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for India

Despite the intimidation and violence that have taken place in many of India's states, may Christians wisely yet unashamedly preach the Gospel. Pray that indigenous Christians and foreign missionaries will minister in ways that do not hint at fraudulent conversions, unmasking the intentions behind the anti-conversion legislation. Intercede for India's leaders, that they may reign with justice and righteousness.

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