SOLD OUT FOR CHRIST! UTTAR PRADESH.
On the 8th of May 2020, *Maya and her family were called out oftheir home by 3 respected village head men and a group of religious fanatics. The men made a mockery of her Christian faith in full public view and hurled all sorts of threats and warnings at her in an undignified manner.
A video clip was also captured by one of Maya’s family members during the heated argument, documenting the forceful and unjust reasoning of the village fanatics. The video shows a chilling confrontation of the village headmen along with a group of religious fanatics shouting, threatening and accusing Maya and her sister in law.
The men come across as disrespectful and abusive, owing to the fact that Maya’s husband works overseas and her brother in law was away in a quarantine facility as he had worked in another state and just returned home.
She lives with her family in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Maya’s husband works abroad while she lives with her in-laws and cares for her 4 young children. As Maya narrates the incident to Persecution Relief, in a low voice she explains, “They asked me why I was following a western god when there are so many Indian gods.
Come back to your original faith otherwise we will discontinue your ration card.” Maya told them that over the past year, she had vaguely received 5 kgs of rice and all promised privileges were never materialized so their treats did not make any sense to her. To which they angrily replied, “from now on, you will not get anything from us, every facility will be stopped.”
Recollecting the past, Maya also asked them why, not one of them had come forward to help her and her family when they were going through a difficult time. “I do not know why you have come to threaten us now, we will not forsake Christ.” Said Maya.
On a mission to change the family’s mind, the villagers asked them why they left their previous faith. Maya went on to remind them about the various issues that the family had faced for a very long time. From ill health to disputes over properties and court cases, all of which had robbed the family of their peace.
They even approached many god men and religious gurus when her daughter- Munni had fallen seriously ill, but nothing worked out for them. For months on end, the family used to spend at least Rs 5000 on Munni’s treatment.
When all hope was lost, a well-wisher shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with Maya and offered to pray for her ailing daughter. In Maya’s own words, “God healed my daughter and a great peace came into my heart.” Soon the family started experiencing major breakthroughs in all their difficult situations. One after the other, all their problems were met with solutions. Ever since, Maya and 4 of her brothers who were born and raised in a traditional Hindu joint family, have all put their faith in Jesus Christ.
Not convinced by Maya’s explanation, the village heads argued that every body had problems. They also went on to question, “75% of the population is Hindu, they serve other gods, are not their prayers being answered? Why did you need to convert?”
Maya who is strong and convinced about her Christian faith, confidently replied, “I have not converted at all. My name is the same, my food is the same, my dressing is the same, my habits are the same and my tribe still stays the same. I have only changed on the inside, not on the outside.” They even tried to reason out with Munni, but she answered, “I have only made up my mind to follow Jesus Christ, every thing else is still the same.”
Frustrated at what they were hearing, the angry village headmenbegan to accuse them of turning to Christianity in exchange for money. They stomped out of the house only to return with the police, falsely accusing the family of being involved in religious conversion.
It was obvious that the village heads had instigated the police against Maya and her family as the police also threatened them by making baseless and false allegations of religious conversions. The fanatics, headmen and police caused a chaos and then left, warning Maya and the family to refrain from any Christian activities.
Maya’s Pastor got in touch with Persecution Relief and informed us about this incident. He expressed his amazement at how courageously a newly born-again Christian like Maya could stand firm for Christ. A young mother with 4 kids, facing a crowd of corrupt authorities and religious fanatics without her husband or brothers by her side, Maya bravely exercised her right to practice the religion of her choice. Her Pastor continues to be encouraged by the strong faith that his believers possess. “No one can change or convert you unless God permits. It is only God who can transform our hearts.” Said the Pastor. Hebelieves that God is moving powerfully amongst the Church in India.
A few weeks ago, a family from Maya’s Church, who gave their lives to Jesus Christ over a year ago, witnessed their own fatherbeing raised from the dead. The night before that happened, the doctor had declared the father dead, shortly after discovering a large tumor in his head.
The family were called to the hospital to claim the body. Filled with grief, his wife and his brother, refused to take the body home and prayed on their knees the entire night. When they approached the body the next morning, they were shocked to see him breathing. They rushed to get the medical staff who in turn refused to believe what they were seeing, dismissing it as a pure miracle!
Let’s pray that God would continue to strengthen Maya and her family as they continue their brave walk with Him. Pray for God’s protection over their household. Pray for the Headmen, fanatics and police, that they would stop harassing the family and leave them alone. Evermore so, may God reach out and touch them in the days to come and win them over by His amazing love and grace.
A real change of heart is only possible if one has a true encounter with God. Deep conviction brings great boldness. Paul was one of the worst persecutors the early church had ever faced but his encounter with Jesus Christ brought deep conviction which even led him to Christian martyrdom. If Maya did not have a true relationship with Jesus Christ, she would have easily given into the demands of the fanatics as there was not just one village head man but 3 who tried to convince her to forsake Christ.
But the refusal to forsake Jesus, showed the powerful impact that He had had on her life in just over a year. Given the current situation, where religious fanatics go to any extent to threaten and harm Christians, there have been instances wherein many have surrendered to their devious demands out of tremendous fear and pressure.
Maya did not twist her words when it came to professing her love for Jesus Christ. In the presence of the Chaos and many onlookers, she faithfully stood her ground, reasoning out with her accusers for over half an hour. That’s enough proof of the power of God at work in her.
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) 2020 Annual Report has given India its harshest rating since 2004.
The commission recommended that the State Department of USA designate India as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, because it “tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” 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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