Introduction: Whispers in the Wind:
In the quiet spaces between prayers, a lament rises—a poignant cry echoing through time. A story of the Christian community in India, grappling with relentless attacks that have left thousands displaced and hundreds grieving.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 5:10
Section 1: Hearts Bruised, Souls Tested
As daylight fades on what were once peaceful homes, a profound test of faith unfolds. Families torn apart, dreams shattered, and acts of worship transformed into battlegrounds of conviction.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18
Section 2: Wandering Souls: Seeking Refuge in the Unknown
Amidst the wilderness of displacement, these souls embark on a pilgrimage of uncertainty. Each step carries the weight of history as they seek refuge and revival. Churches, once sanctuaries of peace, now stand resilient, a testament to a faith that weathers storms.
In the midst of chaos, prayers rise—an anthem of hope echoing in hearts refusing to be silenced. Each prayer is a plea for understanding, compassion, and the restoration of a fractured harmony.
Despite persistent hatred, these souls cling to their faith. Unbroken and unwavering, their spirits rise above the storms of hate seeking to consume them.
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." - Isaiah 40:31
Section 3: A Message
Before we conclude, let me share a heartfelt message from Florence, a voice from the heart of the storm:
"My Dear Zion Family, I trust this message reaches you in a moment of peace. I find it necessary to bring to your attention some distressing events unfolding within our ZION Branch Churches, particularly those nestled in villages and the heart of tribal areas.
In the month of August, a distressing incident unfolded in an interior tribal village, where a revered pastor faced a harrowing attack orchestrated by Hindu activists. Their fury resulted in the burning of the pastor's humble abode and church, constructed with a thatched roof. The pastor himself endured a degrading ordeal—half of his head and mustache forcibly shaved, clothing stripped away, and his body smeared with cow dung. A symbolic march through the village, a rope around his neck, served as a stark warning to those embracing their faith.
Swift action was taken upon receiving the desperate call from the pastor's wife. Town pastors and law enforcement were dispatched, prompting the activists to hastily retreat. Our response extended beyond immediate moral and material support; we are actively engaged in the reconstruction of their dwelling. Our journey unfolded, leading us from the town to the tribal village nestled amidst mountains. A singular bus served as our mode of transport, stretching the duration to a taxing 7 hours due to frequent stops in every village. We found ourselves standing for over four hours until a kind soul offered a seat to us.
In preparation for our visit, we gathered essential supplies from our home—rice, lentils, oil, flour, and potatoes, along with personal items like shirts and pajamas. Additionally, we thoughtfully brought three sarees, traditional Indian attire, for the pastor's wife.
Upon arrival, our focus shifted to supporting the pastor and his family. A night of prayer and encouragement ensued. Understanding the dire circumstances, we extended financial assistance to aid in the construction of their new dwelling.
Another lamentable incident unfolded during a family celebration within another village church. Hindu activists disrupted a prayer meeting, unleashing violence upon the congregation. Women were targeted, enduring physical assault, their traditional sarees tore, and some sustained injuries, necessitating hospitalization. Gratefully, the government has extended aid for their recovery.
A fresh challenge has arisen as unidentified individuals seek information about our churches. Precautionary measures have been instituted, with members cautioned against divulging details without consulting the pastor.
The gravity of the situation intensified on September 10th, with yet another church in an interior village falling victim to an attack. The assailants coerced the congregation into acknowledging their Hindu god, employing weapons, force, and intimidation. Timely intervention, in collaboration with law enforcement, resulted in the apprehension of several culprits, including a leader of an all-India Hindu activist group.
We as leaders and missionaries advocating for church planting and conversions, our roles have rendered us susceptible targets. During our travels, a disconcerting pattern emerged—a persistent shadowing by Hindu individuals equipped with saffron scarfs and brandishing hockey sticks and cricket bats. This development necessitates urgent prayers and support, particularly in acquiring a dedicated church vehicle to fortify our mobility and security.
I implore you to keep the entirety of the Indian Christian community, as well as our missionary endeavors, in your thoughts and prayers. Your solidarity and support serve as pillars of strength as we persist in our pursuit of expanding His Kingdom."
Section 4: Unveiling the Reality: Statistics Speak Louder Than Words
Before we conclude, Florence's plea for solidarity is underscored by sobering statistics that shed light on the severity of the situation faced by Christians in India. UCF, an organization diligently compiling data on atrocities against Christians, has expressed deep discontent with the government's response to a crucial petition in the Supreme Court.
In April, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that claims of rising attacks were fabricated, maintaining an "exaggerated" and misleading narrative. A.C. Michael, the UCF’s national coordinator, emphasized that the government data downplays the severity of the situation. The UCF has filed a petition with the apex court, decrying the increasing number of attacks and false police cases against minority community members, aligning with the enactment of anti-conversion laws in multiple states.
Michael detailed the distressing incidents, citing attacks on pastors, forced conversions, and disruptions in prayer meetings. The UCF report paints a grim picture, revealing that in the first half of 2023, the Christian community faced over 400 hate crimes, averaging more than two incidents per day, with several districts witnessing regular incidents. Countless of which go unreported.
"This year, we have just completed half a year of 190 days, and we have already witnessed 400 incidents of violence against Christians across 23 States in India," stated the report. Comparatively, during the same period from January to June 2022, there were 274 incidents of violence against Christians.
The report emphasizes the alarming rise in violence, with June alone witnessing 88 incidents, averaging almost three incidents per day. Florence, echoing the report, highlights that Christians, despite being victims, face more FIRs than the accused, showcasing the failure of authorities to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of mob violence.
Section 5: Conclusion - A Call to Solidarity and Prayer
In the face of these alarming statistics and harrowing stories, we are compelled to extend a heartfelt call to action. Florence's plea for solidarity resonates not only with the Christian community in India but with compassionate hearts worldwide.
A Call to Prayer: Finding Strength in Unity
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:17-18)
In the quiet corners of your hearts, let there be a space reserved for India. Pray for the safety and resilience of the Christian community facing adversity. Pray for understanding, compassion, for strength. Let our prayers echo across borders, bringing solace and strength to those who need it most.
A Call for Solidarity: Providing Resources
"Share with the Lord’s people who are in need." - Romans 12:13
As we conclude, let us unite in providing essential resources to those affected—the displaced families, the pastors rebuilding their churches, and the victims of violence. Your support can make a tangible difference in alleviating their suffering, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness.
Although we continue to face enormous challenges, threats, assaults, insults, and persecution, It is by God's Abiding Faithfulness and His Promises that keep us going. He stands by us, His Presence goes with us, and Surely He gives us rest in the roughest waters.
In the Midst Of Persecution
The Word of The Lord Grew Mightily and Prevailed.
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