How many Christians are there in India?
Though there are around the same number of Christians in India as there are people in the UK, with 67.4 million Christians, it’s still less than five per cent of the population of India, which is almost 1.4 billion people.
What does persecution look like in India?
Hindu extremists believe that all Indians should be Hindus, and that the country should be rid of Christianity and Islam. They use extensive violence to achieve this goal, particularly targeting Christians from a Hindu background. Christians are accused of following a “foreign faith” and blamed for bad luck in their communities. These believers are often physically attacked and sometimes killed, as well as being under constant pressure from their family and community to return to Hinduism. If they do not “re-convert,” they may be boycotted by their community, with a devastating effect on their ability to earn income. Many believers are isolated and don’t know any other Christians.
Christians are persecuted in all areas of public and private life, and anti-conversion laws (currently in nine states, with more considering adoption) are abused to harass and intimidate Christians. Few people are actually convicted under these laws, but cases can drag on for years.
Christians from a Hindu background are most vulnerable to persecution in both public and private life.
“They would call my name and take me to a separate room where they interrogated me roughly. Kicking and punching me, they would laugh at me. They had thick sticks which they would use on me anytime they wanted. They asked me questions like: Where was I getting money from for converting people to Christianity? When I said I never received any money, they would just slap me or kick me. This process would continue for about half an hour.”Guarav
What has changed compared to last year?
Persecution in India has increased significantly over the past five years, and has now remained relatively unchanged for the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic has offered a new weapon for persecutors, though, and Christians are often deliberately overlooked when official COVID-19 food and aid is distributed. This has left many desperate for food, particularly since many Christians are from the Dalit caste and thus very poor, and have lost their sources of income this year.
Open Doors works through local church partners to strengthen the Indian church through providing emergency aid (Rapid Response teams are often first on the scene after violent attacks), persecution survival training, Bibles, livelihood and community development programs, advocacy support and legal training.
- Praise God that many are coming to faith in India through miraculous healings and the courageous witness of India’s Christians. Pray that this will continue, and many more will come to know Jesus.
- Pray for protection for our brothers and sisters, especially those who are new Christians, and those who live in rural areas and are particularly isolated. Pray that God will help their families and communities to accept their new faith.
- Ask God to continue to work through Open Doors partners to bring practical support and encouragement to those who are most in need of help. Pray for wisdom and energy for Open Doors partners, and ask God to protect them as they carry out this vital work, particularly during the pandemic.
Lord, thank You that faith is growing in India despite so much opposition faced by Christians in public and private life. Please keep bringing new believers to faith, and give strength and resilience to Christians from a Hindu background. Frustrate the plans of Hindu extremists who want to rid the country of other faiths, and change the hearts of those in power.