Your gifts and prayers are making an enormous difference to persecuted Indian Christians who urgently need food during the coronavirus lockdown.
As we enter another period of lockdown in the UK and Ireland, the same is true around the world. Without any financial safety net, many of your persecuted family still desperately need help. And we’re starting to hear early stories of the impact your support is having.
Your gifts and prayers are literally saving the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable believers – in this article, we hear from Indian persecuted believers who have been sustained by your generosity.
A persecuted Indian Christian receives Open Doors aid
If you received the recent Open Doors email calling for urgent support, you will have heard from Tara* in India. She and her husband serve a small church whose members are poor at the best of times. Their household income comes from church offerings, which was no longer possible – and her cry from the heart for her two children was hard to read: “We don’t have enough to feed our children. I can’t watch them starve and we cannot go to our parents. Please, kindly do something to support the body of Christ.”
The body of Christ responded! “They were really overwhelmed when we were able to reach them with groceries,” says an Open Doors partner in the region. “There was enough to sustain them for one month!” Tara and her husband became Christians a few years ago, after hearing the testimony of her uncle – her husband left his job in real estate to become a full-time pastor. Your support has been an enormous answer to prayer for them both, and their eight-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. Thank you.
Hundreds of thousands of persecuted Christians in India are severely affected. As previously shared, the lockdown is having a devastating affect on the huge number of Indians who are daily wage labourers and now can’t get food. As another Open Doors partner share, “In the slum areas people are now totally dependent upon the food being distributed by the government and social organisations. We constantly receive calls and messages from Christian communities where people have no food for their children or family members. It is heart-breaking to hear about the difficulties our brothers and sisters are going through.”
India’s poorest communities – where many of the country’s Christians live – are also particularly vulnerable to the virus. There’s no space for social distancing in a slum, and hygiene levels are always low. “Masks and sanitisers would be a luxury for them,” says the Open Doors partner. “They don’t have even one proper set of clothes to cover their bodies, nor soap to wash their hands.”
In many cases, even before the lockdown, Christians in India are denied access to water, education, or government rations on the basis of their faith. In Jharkhand, for instance, Christians were made to use a river used for sewerage for their drinking water. In another town, Hindu extremists put a picture of a Hindu god on the local water pump for drinking water and said Christians couldn’t use it. This will only get worse during this current crisis.
But there is good news. Thanks to your support, vital aid is getting to persecuted Christians in great need.
“We had very little food and were very worried about what would happen,” says Sujata in West India, a single mother whose husband left when she became a Christian a few years ago. Her daily work on a construction site ended and she had no wages. “We didn’t lose hope but we prayed to God. In answer to our prayer God sent His people with groceries! We are so thankful to the team for helping us in this time of extreme need.”
Deepali in North India is in a similar situation. She has two children to look after and is a single mother too – her husband died of HIV AIDs and she contracted the disease too. “I was desperate, but then I found hope in Jesus and decided to become a Christian,” Deepali says. “In return I was despised and ridiculed; my community hates people converting to Christianity.
“The lockdown in the city affected my job and now I have no earnings. I had no money to buy basic necessities for my family. In this situation, Open Doors partners contacted me and provided me with these groceries. I am so thankful to God and the supporters for this provision!”
Shashita in East India was also desperate. “I live with my husband, two children and my mother-in-law,” she says. “My husband is a porter and I work as a housemaid. Even though both of us work very hard, we earn very little. But after lockdown we lost our jobs completely; we were struggling to provide food for our family. However, our faithful God sent His people to provide the groceries. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
These are just some of the testimonies from the hundreds of persecuted Christian families who have already been reached. “We have already reached a few hundred persecuted Christian families; we are so thankful to God who enabled all this,” says an Open Doors partner. The teams are courageously facing two risks: coronavirus infection, and attack by those who persecute Christians in the region.
“We have to find a safe place to meet persecuted Christians and provide them with necessities without letting people know. If the families are unable to come and are in desperate need, we are trying to reach them. Sometimes it takes a whole day to reach one persecuted family – due to the lockdown we face many hurdles.
“Despite the risks, when we finally meet the families and provide them with the material, we feel so much joy! Several times people have cried a lot while thanking Open Doors supporters and God for the provisions.
“During these times I am reminded of Matthew 25 where Jesus says, ‘…For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in..’ We are so glad to be of service to our brothers and sisters.”
Please give doing what you can for your persecuted family in India and elsewhere. Your prayers and gifts are more crucial than ever – thank you for partnering in this courageous task, to follow what Jesus taught us in Matthew 25.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.