Christian Persecution Jul/Aug 2019

HYDERABAD, India—Christian persecution has grown much more severe in India, and tribal villagers are being taught that Christianity is anti-Indian.

Upset about his daughter and son-in-law leaving the animistic Sarna religion to become Christians, 60-year-old Sanpitha Majhi recently attacked a 28-year-old Christian mother he believed had “forcefully converted” them. When her husband came to rescue her, he too was beaten, said her pastor, Girish Chander Marandi.

The same man had attacked nine people who had gathered for worship. He pounded their heads into the wall and ripped pages from a believer’s Bible.

Such violence comes against the backdrop of a draconian “anti-conversion law” that has given rise to spurious accusations of forcible or fraudulent conversion. Hindu extremists are turning animistic villagers against Christians.

Terrifying Tactics. In Pandanwa Tanda of Hazaribagh District, two families put their faith in Christ after years of losing family members to “healers” known as tantrics. Pastor Manoj Munda told Morning Star News, “The tantric would thrash them with a whip and exorcise on them, and they’d get even sicker and fall prey to death.”

Families who put their faith in Christ four years ago have broken the cycle of death from such treatment, though they have to travel miles to neighboring villages for worship due to hostilities from local Adivasis. This year, local villagers practicing Sarna mixed with Hinduism began collecting funds for puja (idol worship of gods and goddesses).

When Christians refused to contribute, villagers became enraged. They surrounded the wife of Christian Belu Ganjo as she went to draw well water at 9 p.m. “The entire village surrounded her and had decided to tie her with a rope and drown her in the well,” Pastor Munda said. Her husband came running to rescue her, and the women in the mob attacked her as the men attacked Ganjo, he said. They beat them with lathis, a bamboo stick bound with iron, and kicked them.

The mob also threw their 4-year-old daughter to the floor. “By God’s grace, the child suffered only minor injuries. Ganjo ran for his life with his child and wife to another Christian’s house, but the angry mob followed them, so they locked their houses, and in that night they fled away from the village,” Pastor Munda said.

Deprived of Food. In Ranchi, Hindu relatives filed complaints of forced conversions against newly wedded Christian couple Risha Toppo and Roshani Kachhap. After Toppo became a Christian in 2015, his family restricted him to his house. “But I continued praying and reading the Bible. My mother did not allow me into the kitchen for more than two years until I finally left the house in 2017.” They gave him only leftover food once a day, and sometimes they gave him nothing.

“Even through that phase when they were hating me, I questioned my parents, ‘Why are you worshiping the trees and plants? Why not worship the One who created them? The trees and plants do not hear or speak, but the living God sees us, He hears and speaks. Why are we not acknowledging the Creator?’” he said. “We married in court secretly because my family members were planning to attack me if they heard of me marrying a Christian.”

Toppo’s family banished him from the community. “I left everything behind and followed Christ,” he said. “Today we are surviving with the help of a basic salary I receive from working in a private clinic and my wife’s payments from tutoring some school students. We are working very hard but are happy that we are leading a Christian life.”

India ranks 10th on the Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries that persecute believers. To read the full article, go to tinyurl.com/morningstarPERSECUTION.

morningstarnews.org

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