South and Central Asia – An Unhindered Commitment

South and Central Asia – An Unhindered Commitment

Web Story 1 C and S Asia
The wife of a man wrongly imprisoned for more than 11 years takes part in a worship service.

Born as a Dalit, a member of India’s lowest caste, Ajit had endured his share of beatings simply for being an “untouchable.” 

He first heard the gospel after accepting a pastor’s repeated invitations to church, where he was attracted to the singing and prayers of the people. Later, when a street preacher again shared the gospel with him, Ajit placed his faith in Jesus Christ. 

Members of the panchayat, or local government, immediately told him to stop following Christ and return to Hinduism. When he refused, his picture was published in the paper along with that of the street evangelist, and they were told to stop converting people. 

Days later, a group of Hindus came to Ajit’s house and threatened him. The leader held a gun to his head, saying, “You need to stop what you are doing or I will kill you.” Though the police intervened, Ajit was expelled from the village. 

Today, Ajit continues to boldly live out his faith. He pastors a church of 200 people and has helped start four additional churches. “His testimony is really encouraging,” a VOM worker said. “God used the discrimination he experienced as a Dalit Hindu to bring him to Christ.” 

Web Story 1 Nepal
Nepal’s unique geography makes Bible distribution and front-line work challenging.

Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who came to power in 2014, the Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has grown dramatically and has emboldened those seeking to further solidify India’s Hindu identity. In recent years, Hindu radicals have increasingly forced Christian converts to participate in reconversion ceremonies and return to Hinduism. Vague anti- conversion laws have also been implemented to prevent Hindus from leaving the religion. 

The intense hatred of Christians in India has continued this year. In June, two young men who had recently accepted Christ were martyred for their faith. 

After local Hindu fanatics in Odisha state pressured 16-year- old Samaru to stop sharing the gospel, a group of them came to his house on the evening of June 4 and ordered him and two other men to come to a meeting with them. As they led the three Christians up a mountain, the two other believers were able to break free and escape. But the Hindus killed Samaru and attempted to bury his body, which his loved ones discovered the next day. 

Three days later, Kande, a married believer with two young daughters, was martyred in Jharkhand state. After he had endured nearly two years of opposition from villagers for leaving their shared animist religion, a group of men came to his home, broke down the front door and dragged Kande out of the house. 

“Never turn your back on Jesus,” he urged his wife, “even if they kill me.” The men took Kande to the outskirts of the village, where they slit his throat and left his body beside the road. 

Kande’s wife, Bindu, remains firm in her faith, despite ongoing pressure from her family. She said she will “live and die for Jesus” and never turn away from Him. 

“Pray for them,” a VOM worker said of the martyrs’ families. “Lift them up. Pray that they will remain faithful to the Lord and that they will continue to take the gospel to their villages.” 

One positive event in India recently was the release of seven Christian men from prison. Months after the 2008 riots in KandhamalOdisha state, the Christian men were falsely charged in connection with the murder of radical Hindu priest Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. In the riots triggered by his murder, extremist Hindus killed more than 100 Christians and destroyed 5,800 homes and 300 churches and Christian institutions. 

The seven Christians, who spent more than 10 years behind bars, were released in December 2019. A VOM worker who has monitored their adjustment to life outside prison was pleased to report that the men remain committed to the gospel. 

A similar commitment to advancing God’s kingdom is evident in Parvez, who survived a bombing in the Central Asian country of Pakistan and later received medical treatment after coming to the United States as a refugee. 

After earning a college degree, Parvez decidVed to return to Pakistan, which is predominantly Muslim and where Christians are treated as second-class citizens. VOM is now supporting his ministry work. 

“The heroes for me in Pakistan are those who return or stay though they have the opportunity to leave,” a VOM worker said. “It is such a hard place [to minister]. I hold them in very high regard.” 

Christians in Pakistan have also taken the opportunity to reach out to their communities during the coronavirus pandemic. They are finding new ways to love their Muslim neighbors, despite the threat of persecution. 

“Christians can point to the one certainty we still have,” a VOM worker said. “I see Christians taking the opportunity to share the gospel, their hope.”