ESCALATING PERSECUTION AMIDST LOCKDOWN, CHHATTISGARH.
Local villagers turned against a Christian family because they did not attend a religious function and threatened to boycott them if they did not forsake Christianity.
Mangdu Malkami and his family live in a village which is located in the Sukma District of Chhattisgarh, a state in Central India. In the entire village, theirs is the only Christian family. Every Sunday, they travel for around 35kms to attend a Church gathering which is led by Pastor Chinnam Wycliff.
For a while now, they have been facing tremendous persecution on account of their faith. Last week, the local villagers gatheredtogether to celebrate the Mango festival. Since the festivities involve religious rituals and idol worship, Mangdu and his family did not attend the function. This agitated the local villagers, so they decided to address this to the village community. They also called Mangdu and his family for this meeting.
After much reasoning, the villagers collectively came to a conclusion. They told Mangdu that he and his family could continue to stay in the village as long as they follow all religious practices, traditions and rituals of the local religion. If they refuse to co-operate, they would need to leave the village.
Mangdu and his family were in a state of shock after hearing what their own village was asking them to do. After listening to what the villagers had to say, they quickly called Pastor Wycliffand narrated the whole story to him.
Speaking to Persecution Relief, Pastor Wycliff said that the families are living in great fear. Pastor Wycliff fells absolutely handicapped and sad, as the nationwide lockdown has restrained him from reaching out to Mangdu and his family during this challenging time. All he could do was console them by promising them of his prayers and assuring them that all would be well soon.
At the moment, Mangdu and his family are not the only ones facing persecution, Pastor Wycliff also shared that around 10 other families from the surrounding villages are also going through similar circumstances. Local religious fanatics are taking advantage of the Covid-19 lockdown, and harassing the Christians in their villages.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Although the fanatics assume that no one can come to the believers’ aid, they are unaware of the fact that the one and only true living God is in complete control and will protect and care for his people. What are the things that trouble you today? Are you able to cast it on God? Are you assured of his daily care for you? He loves us and he will gladly take are concerns and give us peace in return.
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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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