Believers denied burial ground due to faith, Andhra Pradesh.
Gedda Valasa is a small village situated in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, India.
Around 35 families live there, out of which 7 families are Christian. Last week, a Christian who was a part of the village passed away. Sadly, some of the villagers refused to allow the body to be buried at the common burial grounds as the deceased was a Christian. Some people from nearby villages intervened and with great difficulty the burial was allowed, from that day onwards there had been a tension in the village.
Vandhala Ravi is a Mother Tongue Translator who works with the Khonds, a Scheduled Tribe that speak the Kuvi language. 6 months ago, he started working at the Gedda Valasa Village.
While translating the Bible to the Kuvi language, many villagers committed their lives to Jesus Christ. Within 3 months, the Christians started a house church at a fellow believers home where regular Sunday worship services were conducted.
A few of the villagers were not in favor of this development. They began threatening the believers to put an end to all Christian activities and stop the House Church.
Initially, many more villagers were curious about the Christian faith and used to come and attend the Christian meetings, however, due to fear of social boycott, they have stopped attending. People from other villages have joined hands with the villagers to protest against the Christians. They have called for a public meeting for the same reasons.
Persecution Relief spoke to the local leader who is a co-worker with Vandhala Ravi. He briefed us about this challenge and will soon be going to the village with a few co-workers to address the issue. They along with many other Christians, not only serve as Bible Translators, but are also involved in Church Planting, Evangelism and Pastoral Training.
Our hearts prayer is that not a single Christian in the village of Gedda Valasa should turn back from their faith and stand strong even in the face of death. Pray Vandhala Ravi and the rest of the team to courageously serve within the different villages God leads them to. Most importantly, pray for all those who have turned against the Christians, that they may have a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ.
Psalm 9:10 says, ‘Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.’
Many of us rely and put our trust in family, money, property, jobs, homes, people and other material things that the world has to offer. Let’s face it, none of those things can promise us a secure tomorrow, but we can be rest assured that God will protect all those who put their trust in him, he will not allow them to be put to shame.
In 2019, 17 cases of hate crimes against Christians were recorded in Andhra Pradesh. Between January 2016 to December 2019, there has been a rise of 59.6% of Hate Crimes against Christians all across the country. In 2019 alone, Persecution Relief has recorded the maximum number of 527 cases compared to 447 cases in 2018, 440 in 2017 and 330 in 2016.
What stands out amongst the Hate Crimes in India is that 4 Christians were murdered in 2019. We recorded 199 incidents related to Threats, Intimidations & Harassments against Christians, 104 incidents of Church attacks, 85 incidents of Physical Violence reported which includes Women & Children, 100s of House Churches were forcefully closed down by Religious Fanatics and the local administrations.
The state of Uttar Pradesh has showed a shocking 179.4% leap in cases of Christian Persecution between 2016 to 2019! From 39 cases being reported in 2016, the number has sky rocketed to 109 cases in 2019 alone bringing the total count from across the country to 527 cases. Uttar Pradesh has proved to be the most hostile state in the country against Christians for the past 3 consecutive years. Tamil Nadu continues to rank as the second most hostile state in the country with 75 cases, followed by Karnataka with 32 cases, bringing the state of Maharashtra to number 4 with 31 cases and Bihar with 30 cases stands at number 5.
US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) ranked India’s persecution severity at “Tier 2” along with Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past seven years, India has risen from No. 31 to No. 10 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, ranking just behind Iran in persecution severity.
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