India - Family standing in front of burned out church - Photo: VOMC

India

India is the world's largest democracy and the second most populous country (following China). It is culturally diverse, consisting of many languages, cultures and religions. India's social and political structures are largely determined by religion, caste and language. Despite its increasing presence in the global economy, the vast majority of the country's rural population remains impoverished.

Church tradition maintains that the Apostle Thomas first brought the Gospel to India and was likely martyred near Chennai. Indian believers who refer to themselves as "Thomas Christians" continue this legacy as they share the Gospel in some of the most restricted and unreached regions of the world. However, those who evangelize are at great risk as they may be beaten, murdered, or have their properties/churches ransacked and burned.

In 2018, Christians in India experienced an attack every 24 hours, a dramatic increase from past years. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Hindu nationalist organization has seen a 20-percent increase in membership and an emboldened base aimed at further cementing India's Hindu identity among its great diversity of languages, cultures and religions. Vague policies such as anti-conversion laws (opposing the conversion of Hindus to other religions) have passed in several Indian states, and the push for a similar federal law is gaining support. The state anti-conversion laws have long been used against pastors, church planters and evangelists. Yet, despite greater government restrictions on Christianity, the church is growing.

Life for Christians:

According to Open Doors UK, there are almost 69 million Christians living in India, representing 5 percent of the population. RSS informants live in nearly every village and report on the activities of Christians, resulting in attacks and arrests. Churches have been demolished and burned, worship gatherings disrupted, crosses in graveyards vandalized, Bibles and other Christian literature confiscated and burned, and more pastors beaten and jailed. Christians are often arrested and held for up to three weeks after being falsely accused of forcing Hindus to convert to Christianity. With assistance, they are usually able to post bail or prove that the charges are unfounded.

India Information

  • Current Ministry Projects

    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

    Population
    1,399,179,585 (2023 est.)

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

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

    Leader
    President Droupadi Murmu (2022)

    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.

India News

  • Christian Woman Killed by Relatives
    A woman is silhouetted against a sunset.

     

    A Christian woman was beaten to death with a hammer and other weapons on June 24th because of her conversion to Christianity. The murder took place in Toylanka, a village in the state of Chhattisgarh.

  • Young Convert Killed and Widow Forced to Flee
    Jime Kawasi is looking down with her eyes closed.
    Kosa Kawasi's wife, Jime.
    Photo: Morning Star News

    On May 4th, 22-year-old Kosa Kawasi was killed during a violent mob attack while at his home in the village of Kapanar, Chhattisgarh state. The mob, believed to have been led by the young man's uncle and cousin, was angered that Kosa and his wife Jime had converted to Christianity. As a result, the opposing villagers had unsuccessfully tried to force the Christian couple from their home. Following this incident, the angry community members physically confronted the believer – ultimately inflicting a lethal stab wound.

  • Prison Sentence for Alleged Forced Conversions
    Pastor Ramesh Ahirwar and Sakshi.
    Pastor Ramesh Ahirwar and his wife Sakshi.
    Photo: Morning Star News

    A Christian couple was recently sentenced to prison after accusations were made that they had been involved in pressuring others to convert to Christianity. Pastor Ramesh Ahirwar and his wife Sakshi are from the village of Vivek Nagar in Madhya Pradesh. A man had accused the couple of abducting his estranged wife Sapna (who also happens to be Pastor Ramesh's niece) before allegedly pressuring her to convert, holding the woman against her will, and not allowing her to return home to be with him. He also purported that the Christian couple offered to build Sapna a home and give her money each month. The complainant, Abhishek, further claimed that the Christians attempted to convert him as well, offering him a job in return.

  • Land Dispute Escalates to Violence
    A group of people - including police - is gathered around the hospital beds of people being treated for their injuries.
    Members of the Janwada Methodist
    church receiving treatment in hospital.
    Photo: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

    For several years, villagers in Janwada, which is located within India's Telangana State, have been demanding that a road in their community be widened. On February 13th, workers moved into the area to start construction. However, it was discovered during the building process that the construction had encroached by several feet onto the property belonging to the community's Methodist Church, which had existed there for 50 years.