Pastor forced to leave village, Odisha.
‘Leave this village immediately, you cannot preach about Christ anymore’
*Pastor Chandu was unexpectedly forced to vacate the property on which he leads a church and also has been living at for many years now. On the 21st of May, the owner of the house asked Pastor to stop all Christian activities and also asked them to pack up and leave.
Pastor Chandu has been ministering for many years in a village in the Indian state of Odisha. He serves under the umbrella of a well-established ministry in India. He called Persecution Relief to inform us about the religious intolerance that he and his family were facing.
Giving Persecution Relief a brief description about his case, he told us that *Bablu and *Bina, the house owners, used to be members of his church. Many years ago, he had voluntarily and generously given Pastor Chandu a piece of his property saying, “Please stay here and conduct all church gatherings as well.”
Rented house of the Pastor
Unfortunately, a while back, Bablu and his wife fell victim to the threats of a few religious fanatics in their village, and were forced to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ. The fanatics have now targeted Pastor and are putting tremendous pressure on Bablu to force the Pastor to not only vacate his property but also leave the village for good.
“Leave the village immediately,” Bablu threatened Pastor Chandu, “You cannot preach about Jesus Christ in this village anymore!”
Pastor Chandu has been faithfully and lovingly serving this village for a long time, “How can I be selfish and flee for my own safety, leaving my sheep all alone? I am their shepherd, who else would care for them if I leave? He exclaimed. “I don’t want to leave; I want to serve the Lord in this village only.”
Pastor Chandu is currently looking for a rented place nearby but no one is ready to let out a place to him from fear of being harassed by religious goons. Although he cannot afford buying a small piece of land on which he could serve the church and live on, he is still trusting God to help him.
Apart from caring for the church, Pastor Chandu also cares and provides for his wife and two young children aged 17 and 10 respectively. In the midst of the crisis that the nation is going through, Pastor Chandu is completely clueless, uncertain and concerned about what the future holds for him. He has requested the Church to pray.
After over 70 years of independence, the constitution of India is still struggling to holding the nation together. However, amongst many others, the biggest threat we face is that of religious intolerance. The past few years have seen a sudden, vertical and rapid rise of hostility against the religious minorities. Why?
Known to be a secular state, for decades India has been famously known as a country that is unified in spite its diversity. Communal harmony now seems like a thing of the past. Select religious faiths have become intentional targets of radical religious nationalist groups who propagate the narrative of ‘Hindus being the rightful and true citizens of India’
Rumours of Christianity being incorrectly defined as a western religion are being used to alienate its followers from withing age old communities. Christians are mistakenly described as people who are vehemently trying to convert everyone when they are in fact, primarily known as a peace loving and charitable community. All these misconceptions are tearing a beautiful and imaginably powerful nation apart.
How did this transpire? Why are minorities who are as Indian as the religious majority, treated as outcasts? What has injected the destructive venom of hate into a healthy and thriving Nation? Who is to be blamed?
On the 11th of February 2019, 40-year-old, Anant Ram Gond, a believer of Pastor Chandu was martyred on account of his Christian faith. He is survived by his wife, Sukbati Gond and 5 young children. “The situation is bad in many villages across India. Innocent minds of simple villagers are being corrupted by religious goons with devious agendas.
At present, small groups of religious fanatics are very active in many villages in India. Practically seeming like a premeditated strategy, these groups and sometimes even individuals brainwash the villagers to resist Christians and refuse to allow them to stay in the village. Reports of Christians banned from entering villages have become common, in some cases even sign boards saying, ‘Christians not allowed in this village’ have been erected at the entrance of the village.
Lately, the Sale and rent of properties being refused to Christians is also an area of great concern. Numerous Christians are rendered destitute and hiding in forests and safe houses after being shunned and excommunicated from their homes for refusing to forsake their faith. With many of these radical groups going to any extreme to make Christians renounce their faith, hostility against the Christian community is simply on the rise.
We must unite in prayer and commit this disheartening situation into God’s hands. Pray that Pastor Chandu and his family would soon see a breakthrough in his seemingly hopeless situation. Pray that Bablu and Bina and the rest of the religious fanatics in the village would truly experience the life changing and powerful love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Most of us may have never had an experience of being suddenly kicked out of our homes, let alone asked to leave the neighbourhood. Do we truly identify with Pastor Chandu and his family’s situation?
Are we able to pray without our hearts being filled with compassion? Many illustrations in the bible tell us how Jesus was continually full of compassion for those that he prayed for. Luke 7: 13 says, ‘When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
As disciples and followers of Jesus Christ, may we always be moved with compassion for those who are enduring pain and suffering for Christ’s sake. May our hearts always break for what breaks God’s heart.
From January 2016 to March 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 1961 cases of Hate crimes against Christians in India. In the 1st Quarter of 2020, we recorded 187 cases.
Between 1st Quarter of 2016 to 1st Quarter of 2020, there has been a rise of 128.04 % of Hate Crimes against Christians all across the country. In 1st Quarter of 2016, we have recorded 82 cases, in 2017 – 134, 2018 – 117, 2019 – 130 and in 2020 we recorded 187 cases of Christian
Persecution. 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.
In 2019 we have 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. 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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