Written by: Open Doors SA
Article source: JOY! Magazine

India is the largest democracy in the world and the most populated nation on the planet. But it’s also the 11th most dangerous place to be a Christian, and there is a disturbing trend of worsening violence and persecution against followers of Jesus.

Across the country, Hindu extremists view Christianity as a threat. According to their radical nationalist ideology, Hindutva, all Indians should be Hindu. Therefore, they treat Christians and other minorities with intolerance, discrimination, and violence.

The power of God
Pastor Laxman* is among the thousands of people who experience this Hindu extremism first-hand. In the state where he lives, laws exist to stop conversion away from Hinduism. These anti-conversion laws are widely misused, so Christians who share their faith are vulnerable and often accused of criminality.

Laxman, who was a devout Hindu, converted to Christianity when his wife was deadly sick. In desperation, he took her to a church and asked someone to pray for her. This was the moment when his life changed forever. “My wife received healing with just one prayer. I understood the power of God, and I became determined to spread His message,” he said.

miracles-amid-violent-persecution

Many Indians are coming to Christ because of the bold witness of pastors like Laxman. He was falsely accused of breaking the anti-conversion laws in India.

A growing church
Laxman studied theology and started a church, and incredible things began to happen. “People came to our fellowship and were delivered from their addictions to alcohol and tobacco.
Others, including my own baby, were healed from illness.”

The church grew from just three people to hundreds. But this vibrant, thriving community was being watched and Laxman soon became a target…

False accusations
“The extremists accused me of luring people to Christianity by using money. I was told that if I continued my ministry, I would be buried alive,” said Laxman. One member of Laxman’s church was coerced into signing a blank sheet of paper. It was used to create a false statement, saying the believer had been lured to convert to Christianity. This “evidence” was just what the extremists needed.

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Violent arrest
“The police arrived while I was conducting a prayer service,” remembers Laxman. “They beat me, took me by the collar, and hit me with their batons. I thought the villagers would save me, but nobody came. The police put me in jail; they tortured and mocked me.”

After six days in prison, Laxman was released. His church building was in ruins, destroyed by the extremists. Believers were scattered, too scared to meet. With no church gatherings, Laxman lost his income. Now he is under constant surveillance and police raid his home whenever they like. It’s a desperate situation – but Laxman persists. He meets secretly with a handful of other Christians, and he trusts the Lord. “God has promised He will be with me. The church is closed but my ministry continues. This is God’s work. No one can close it or shut it down. It is for the Kingdom of the Lord.”

Hope for the future
Through your support, Open Doors and its partners could give emergency food to Laxman and help him to start a small chicken farm, so the family can provide for themselves. It gives him hope and strength for the future. Visit opendoors.org.za to fuel a thriving Church in India through gifts and prayers, helping them to be resilient in the face of persecution.

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*Names changed for security reasons. | Photos: © 2024 Open Doors International

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Date published: 23/05/2024
Feature image: Pastor Laxman now meets Indian believers in secret, to pray together and grow in faith. Here he is baptising a believer who gave his heart to Christ.

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