Persecution in India on the Rise

Hunted at Home in Madhya Pradesh State

“If I am alive or dead,” he said, “it will be for Jesus only.” 

Madhya Pradesh State
Vijay remains resolute in his desire to share Christ among Hindus in this village.

Vijay, an elder of a church in Madhya Pradesh state, left Hinduism to follow Christ after being healed of tuberculosis, from which he had suffered for two years. After trying Hindu rituals and numerous hospital visits, Vijay finally received healing from his illness after placing his faith in Christ.


Having led his wife and 24 other relatives to the Lord, Vijay sought to share the gospel with local villagers. He cultivated friendships with many in his village and eventually led more than 30 Hindu families to Christ.


In 2015, Vijay became an elder in his house church. He assisted the pastor with his ministry, hosted a weekly prayer gathering at his house and continued sharing the gospel with locals. 


One afternoon in April 2020, while his wife and children were away, Vijay lay down to take a nap after a long morning of tending to his cattle. After dozing off for a short period of time, he awoke to find his home engulfed in flames. A mob of Hindu extremists had set his house on fire because they were upset about his prayer gatherings and evangelism.  


The fire destroyed Vijay’s house and killed several buffalo, goats and cows that his family depended on for their livelihood, but he managed to escape. Some pastors, neighbors and friends helped Vijay repair his house. VOM purchased two buffalo and a goat for Vijay’s family.  

Madhya Pradesh State2
The fire set by Hindu nationalists at Vijay’s home killed several of the family’s buffalo and other livestock.

Vijay said he has forgiven his persecutors and is praying for their salvation. He asks for prayer that he will be able to reach Hindus with the gospel in surrounding villages. Reflecting on the incident, Vijay quoted Job 1:21 — “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”  

Standing Against the Mob in Jharkhand State

As four Christian families gathered for worship in eastern India’s Jharkhand state in February 2018, about 150 Hindu nationalists did everything they could to stop them.


They destroyed the house church’s musical instruments, ripped its hymnbooks and stole money from its offering bag. The extremists then beat the Christians and dragged them to the center of the village, ordering them to publicly renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.

Jarkhand State
This house church was attacked in 2018, but church members persevered and welcomed eight more families to their group.

“At that time,” said a church member named Rakesh, “we were reminded of the Scripture where Jesus said that people will hand us over to the authorities; people will hate us due to our faith in Jesus Christ.” 


When the believers refused to renounce their Christian faith, the attackers beat them again. And leaders of the group told the Christians that if they didn’t reconvert to Hinduism within 15 days, they would be barred from the village and forced to forfeit their land and property.


Ever since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, Hindu nationalists have attacked churches with increasing regularity in their efforts to reshape India as a purely Hindu nation. Under Modi, a longtime member of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), numerous anti-conversion laws have been established at the state level. And Hindu nationalists often attempt to force new Christians to return to Hinduism through “reconversion” ceremonies known as Ghar Wapsi (meaning “coming home”).


But as Hindu nationalists seek to “purify” India through violence against Christians, they only help the church grow. The four families who were attacked in February 2018 resumed worship just weeks later, and their faithfulness to Christ attracted others to their church. Today, 12 families belong to the church, which now conducts Bible studies in three villages.  


“For the first six months, we were still living in fear,” Rakesh said. “But after that, our fear went away and we did not hate them anymore. As Jesus forgave those who put Him on the cross, we have also forgiven our persecutors.  


“We continue to make ourselves available for helping our community with their agriculture-related needs,” he continued. “This gives us more opportunities to share what we believe about Jesus, why we believe in Jesus and why we are willing to sacrifice for the sake of Jesus Christ.”  


Church members admit that they occasionally fear further attacks, but when fear takes hold they sing worship songs and recite Psalms 23 and 91. The persecution, they said, has served to refine their faith and draw them closer to Christ.  


“In the beginning of our faith life,” Rakesh said, “we never knew that we would be persecuted. But after the incident of persecution, we realized that persecution comes for our advancement and growth; it strengthens our faith and commitment to Christ.”  


Jamshed, another church member, said becoming intimately aware of persecution and subsequently reading about it in Scripture has given members of the church more courage. “Since the persecution incident, we have more boldness,” he said. “Many people in surrounding villages now know about our Christian faith. Having seen our life and commitment to Christ, many want to know why we follow Jesus with so much commitment.” 


Despite ongoing tension and the likelihood of more persecution, the believers said they have never considered stopping their worship services. “We are so blessed because we were chosen to suffer for the name of Jesus,” Jamshed said. “We have a greater reward.”