Pray for the Persecuted
4th April - 10th April 2021
Each week until Easter, please join us in prayer for brothers and sisters living in the top 10 most dangerous places to be a Christian. We will focus our prayers each week on those living in different persecuted nations around the world. Across the globe, more than 340 million Christians - one in every eight believers - experience high levels of persecution, just for following Jesus.
It seems clear from Paul's letters that the churches cared deeply for Paul and their fellow believers who were facing afflictions. So much so that Paul was concerned that his afflictions might cause believers to become discouraged or even to leave the faith. Paul even sent Timothy to Thessalonica to make sure that they understood the afflictions they faced but to ensure that the church would stand firm. He explains that he sent Timothy to ensure,
3that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4)
Persecution type: Religious nationalism
Estimated number of Christians: 67,356,000
How Christians are suffering: Though there are around the same number of Christians in India as there are people in the UK, it’s still less than five per cent of the population of India, which is almost 1.4 billion people. 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.
Persecution and anti-Christian violence have worsened since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014. Even in this past year, Christians have been prevented from access to emergency support during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was freely available to the rest of the population.
What’s life like for Christians in India? Gaurav (name changed) was falsely accused of forcing people to convert to Christianity. Few people are actually convicted under these laws, but cases can drag on for years. He was one of the unluckiest ones – he was imprisoned for four months, along with two of his friends. When they were finally released, it took them three years to prove their innocence. He said, “meanwhile, I and my friends had no proper jobs, we were viewed as criminals by our community and no one wanted to associate with us.”
"But God didn’t abandon us, God is so faithful, we lacked nothing – He is so good!”, testified Gaurav.
Prayer: Father, your word speaks of your plan to gather people of every tribe and tongue and nation, and to bring them into your kingdom through faith in your Son. And that glorious work of salvation throughout the nations causes those who now belong to you to face all kinds of trials and material disadvantage. When we think of the nation of India, we often consider its advances in education, trade and commerce. Yet Lord, it remains a place of great difficulty for your people.
Lord, we 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. Father, please help their families and communities to accept their new faith. Lord where there is discrimination and violence, would you bring your restoration and comfort. And Father, for those who have lost loved ones or who are living with the effects of this violence, please bring your peace and lead them to hold Jesus as their greatest treasure. Lord, we pray that rising Hindu extremism will be quelled and that political leaders will pursue peace rather than division.
And Lord, we know that plan to gather people of every nation is not a plan that ends with persecution here on earth. But ends with peace in the new heavens and the new earth. So help our brothers and sisters, help us all, to keep our eyes fixed on the day of Jesus return. For on that day, we will be free from all persecution, all discrimination, and all violence, and we will be in your presence singing praise to you, Father, Son and Spirit, with one tongue and one voice. Amen.
Open Doors: https://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/world-watch-list/india/
Barnabas Fund: https://barnabasfund.org/countries/India/
If you would like to pray as a family, then Open Doors have a free World Watch List pack for children and you can set off together on a journey of prayer through the year. Each week, children can colour in a flag in the prayer passport, pray for that country and put a sticker on that country on the map. These can be ordered from https://www.opendoorsuk.org/products/product/wwl-21-childrens-pack
This post is based on a very helpful blog post by Joe Carter, editor for The Gospel Coalition, entitled "The Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Be a Christian in 2021"