Rajesh is an Open Doors partner in India. Even before the pandemic, his role and calling involved a great deal of risk - but he sees the joy of serving the persecuted church.
Open Doors partners like Rajesh* are courageously going out to take vital resources to Indian Christians who are the last in line for Covid-19 aid. He is taking great risks despite the virus and ongoing persecution – but risk is nothing new for Rajesh. Through his 12 years as an Open Doors partner, he regularly takes enormous risks to show Jesus’ love.
Although Rajesh was raised in a Christian home, he didn’t feel a big commitment to Christ while growing up. When he was 16, he attended a youth conference that sound fun – but God had plans that went beyond fun.
On the third day of the youth conference, the preacher called out to Rajesh, even though they had never met before. The preacher said, "Rajesh, the Lord is calling you. You’re wearing a red shirt. You’re here on this campus, come to the front."
“I couldn't run away from that,” Rajesh says. “I had to go, and when I went up front, he prayed for me and I felt the very presence of Holy Spirit in my life. I can’t explain it - it was so powerful, and I started crying. I committed my life to Him.
“I would not say that I chose God, or I decided to follow God,” Rajesh adds, “but I would rather say, God chose me and made me follow Him. That's a special grace upon my life.”
After this miraculous calling, Rajesh was keen to find out how God wanted him to serve. “How do You want my life to be a blessing to others?” Rajesh would ask. He faithfully asked the question for 10 years. And then the Lord provided Rajesh with a clear answer: he should serve the persecuted church in India.
In his first assignment, Rajesh went to meet a pastor from a remote village who had been badly beaten because of his faith. The thing Rajesh remembers most is that the pastor was smiling. “That was amazing for me to see. That was my first encounter with someone who was directly persecuted.”
He saw the dangers first-hand on that initial trip. Because when he left the pastor’s house, he realised all the villagers were looking at him aggressively. Then the pastor said, “Please leave now. As quick as you can!”
Rajesh got to his car and drove away – a group of 20 young men on motorbikes tried to block the road. When Rajesh managed to get around them, he and his driver were chased for a long time.
“This is the ministry the Lord has called us to.” Rajesh
“They wanted to stop us and beat us,” Rajesh says, “and they chased us for around 10 kilometres. And the entire time our prayer was, ‘Lord, please be with us.’”
By God’s grace, Rajesh and the others escaped. Some people might have been put off helping persecuted Christians because of this encounter. But, when he got home, Rajesh knew what to tell his wife. He said: “This is the ministry the Lord has called us to.”
Since that day, Rajesh has made it his mission to strengthen the persecuted church in India. During the pandemic and the lockdown, he and his team are taking vital resources to many persecuted believers who have lost their jobs, have no income and are deliberately overlooked when aid is distributed – including many isolated Christians who might not know any other believers. But even when the world isn’t facing a global crisis, he knows that Christians in India face a lot of violent opposition.
“The kind of persecution that Christians face in India is often physical assault. They are often beaten, manhandled, even tortured. In some cases, they are killed,” Rajesh says. And in recent years, he’s seen another, terrible, trend – young girls and women are being attacked to teach a lesson to the father or the pastor. Even children aren’t safe.
“The Christian life is a life of risk,” Rajesh says simply.
Rajesh is continually encouraged by the persecuted believers he serves. He has met many families and individuals who’ve suffered violence, imprisonment, being kicked out of the village or having their houses burned down because they follow Jesus. And he sees the church growing in strength and in number.
“Every persecution is a lesson to strengthen the church,” Rajesh says. “Persecution is not something new to Christians in India; they are facing it and they are growing through it. Through the persecution, God is making the church grow.”
“The most suffering church in India is the house church,” Rajesh adds. “Because they are isolated and can be easily targeted. So, if you want to pray for India, pray for this house church movement because they are the easiest victims of persecution and they do not know how to face it, but the grace of God is enough for them.”
"Through the persecution, God is making the church grow.” Rajesh
So, does Rajesh find his work with persecuted Christians hard? It certainly includes difficult times, but he mostly sees the privilege of answering that call God gave him. “It is just a joy to serve the persecuted church,” Rajesh says, smiling. “Because when you serve the persecuted church, you actually serve the Lord.”
With your support, Rajesh is able to keep serving the Lord in this way. He has served persecuted Christians in India for over a decade, and will stay with them after the pandemic – but at this difficult time, your gifts and prayers mean that he and other Open Doors partners in India can take vital food, aid and medicine to your brothers and sisters who urgently need help.
*Name changed for security reasons