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From India to South Africa: Living out faith as a Christian

We had the privilege of getting insight into the situation in India from a Christian from this country who now lives in South Africa. He explained to us the day-to-day struggles that Christians in India experience, and he asks us for prayer for the current elections in this country. Read below what he had to say.

The states or provinces of Southern India consist of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andrah Pradesh and Karnataka. Among these, Kerala and Tamil Nadu make up most of the Christian population. Hence the North Indian states have a small Christian population.

Secondly, the lower class in terms of the caste system contributes to this count officially because the conversion to Christianity from another belief happened a long time ago due to various reasons. The main reason was the denial of treating the lower class as equally as other upper classes in the caste system. Even today, one of the practices in various parts of India is not allowing Hindus of a lower caste into Hindu temples to worship along with other upper caste people. This is not an issue in cities, as these intangible attributes can’t be identified and classified by their appearance, but it is often prevalent in rural villages.

The upper caste people always think Christianity belongs to the lower caste. Therefore, the family members take all efforts to hide or cut relationships with individuals or even whole families who accept Jesus as their Saviour, resulting in the believer giving up either his/her family or secretly maintaining his/her beliefs.

To limit the conversion to Christianity, various privileges like  higher education and employment opportunities are denied lawfully to this lower section of people if they proclaim their Christian faith publicly.

What is even more heartbreaking, is the segregation within Christianity based on the caste system to the extent of having separate churches for each caste within the same town or village.

The level of persecution differs from state to state, based on their level of socio-economic growth. The above-mentioned segregation still exists in the southern states, which are comparatively more developed than the northern states. Moreover, people face real persecution in the form of mob attacks and the vandalisation of churches in a few of the northern states, especially where their socio-economic growth is slow.

In recent years, churches and pastors of all denominations were under constant threats and attacks in several ways, such as not being allowed to preach in public places and not allowed banners of service details in their own homes. In many instances pastors and believers were attacked while worship services were held. Although the Indian constitution permits all citizens to follow their own beliefs and to promote their faith freely while not condemning other beliefs, this kind of incidents are increasing at an alarming rate.

Now it is almost impossible to get appropriate approval for constructing new church buildings or renovating an existing church after it has been demolished.

Sadly, all the Christian owned orphanages, old age homes and other social activities to uplift underprivileged people were banned from doing their activities, because it was viewed as ways of converting people to Christianity with the help of foreign funding support.

I must also mention that all foreign missionaries were expelled from India and that it is impossible for them to visit this country, with the hope that this would stop the Gospel being preached to unreached people, not knowing that God works in mysterious ways.

What is even more worrying, is the reality that Hindu extremists are gaining confidence that they can get away easily with unlawful things done to Christians and Christian institutions, as the Hindutva ideology and Hindu nationalism are infecting the minds of Hindus through well-organised Hindu institutions.

We thank God that we didn’t directly or indirectly face any form of persecution in South Africa since we started to worship the Lord here.

We humbly request you all to pray for the elections, which started in India on 19 April 2024, as this election result would majorly determine the future of Christian minorities to exercise their freedom of worship and preaching in the country.

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