This shocking incident was narrated to Persecution Relief by *Pr. Ravi on the 30th of August 2020. It took place at a remote village situated in the Indian state of Odisha.
Refusing the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ ritual (return to previous faith), *Dev and his pregnant wife *Maya, were banished at midnight from their village by the elders of the village and a few anti-Christian villagers. *Sunder, another young Christian was also thrown out along with them.
A few years ago, Dev and Maya decided to join a bible school immediately after getting married so that they could return and serve the little Church in their village. They attended a curriculum conducted by Pr. Ravi, for a duration of a year.
After they completed their year of study, they returned home, to their village and began serving the families in the village. 10 Christian families regularly met to pray and worship together and the Church began to thrive.
When the Covid-19 crisis arose, a Christian boy named *Sunder returned home after losing his job in another state. He bought a box of Bibles along with him and distributed them amongst the villagers. Some accepted and some rejected the offer.
Some of the villagers did not like this. They began to grow cold and hostile towards their Christian neighbours. The Church was often harassed and sometimes even given death threats, but they continued to persevere in their Christian faith.
A couple of days before Dev, Maya and Sunder were excommunicated, the village council called a public meeting after they were instigated and pressurised by the religious fanatics. They summoned all the Christian families and made a public declaration:
“Only those who follow our Hindu Gods can stay in this village, others will not be allowed to live here”
In response to the announcement, the Christians reasoned out by saying they were equally a part of the village, irrespective of their faith. Most of their families have been living there for generations, including Dev and Maya’s families.
The meeting was called off after the council warned them that they were going to dearly pay for not giving into their demands.
Finally, on the 29th of August 2020, the religious fanatics along with the village council called out all the Christian families at around 11:30 in the night. They caught the Christians and tied up their children and slapped them, threatening to release them only after they participate in the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ ritual.
Dev and Maya, who is pregnant with their first child were shocked at what they were witnessing. Sadly, the villagers made death threats and forced them and Sunder out of their homes as soon as they refused to recant their Christian faith.
In the dead of the night, Dev, Maya and Sunder fled into the jungle with just the clothes that they were wearing, their phones and a Bible. Being a remote area, they walked for almost 4 hours to find network so that they could call Pr. Ravi who lived 30kms away.
With Maya in a delicate condition, Pr. Ravi coordinated with a local pastor to house the distressed Christians until he could arrange for them to be brought to the Bible School.
Soon, the 3 Christians were safe with Pr. Ravi. However, they were very grief-stricken. They had been torn away from their very own and they worried about the Christian families who were facing tremendous persecution back home.
“They are seeking God for guidance but will work, study and stay at the Church premises, as the situation around is not favourable, especially for Dev and Maya who are expecting a baby in the next few months” said Pr. Ravi.
Faith and Religion is something that travels beyond the event of death. Every religion has their own beliefs and one must respect that. Would you ever recant your faith and religion if you were threatened to do so?
The conviction of knowing what follows death is one of the most profound truths for a Christian. The Bible teaches us that God loved this dying world so much that He sent His son Jesus Christ to save us and all who believed what Jesus said, would not perish but gain eternal life.
That being said, one would rather choose to secure an eternal life rather than place their bets on perishable things and a life that is so fleeting. Without hurting, forcing or threatening anyone, this is precisely what Dev, Maya and Sunder exercised as they chose that what they could never lose over that which will perish someday.
As an organization that serves and loves the Persecuted Church in India, such incidents deeply move and sadden us. We have and will always continue doing our best to support precious ones like these who lose everything because of their faithful commitment to Christ.
At present, we are providing assistance to Dev, Maya and Sunder, in the best ways possible. Do get in touch with us if you are led to care for them in any way. We will be happy to help.
Pray for the 10 Christian families who are facing intensifying persecution and boycott in the village, that God would protect and save them from all schemes of the evil one.
Pray that Dev, Maya and Sunder would grow into a deeper relationship with God and trust in His provision, protection and loving kindness.
Pray for Maya to grow strong and to have a safe and pleasant delivery.
Pray that God would endow Pr. Ravi with much wisdom and understanding to care and disciple Dev, Maya and Sunder as they continue to serve the Church.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 We chose to stand the test because we know that we are standing for what is right, i.e. trusting in the only way, the truth and the life-Jesus Christ. No one forces us to do this, moreover, it is our love and commitment towards a loving God that compels us never to turn back. In persevering, we not only gain eternal life but also receive the promised ‘Victor’s Crown’. Yes, we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.
In the 1st Half of 2020, Persecution Relief recorded 293 cases of Christian Persecution. In 2019 alone, we recorded the maximum number of 527 cases compared to 447 cases in 2018, 440 in 2017 and 330 in 2016. From January 2016 to June 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 2067 cases of Hate crimes against Christians in India.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, ‘Countries of Particular Concern’(CPC) In its 2020 report. The US State Department 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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