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Persecution survival training in India - What is it, and why is it important?

Why has God allowed this to happen? Am I the only one who is facing this? What should I do?

When our brothers and sisters around the world face persecution, they often have many of the same questions that we might have here in the UK and Ireland when we’re facing challenges.

While we might turn to a friend, a relative or a church leader for support, many of our persecuted brothers and sisters are incredibly isolated, and sometimes it’s their families and communities who are the source of their persecution. Persecution survival training, run by Open Doors local church partners in India, gives our brothers and sisters an opportunity to come together with other believers who are facing similar challenges, work through some of the questions they have, and equip them to face the persecution that may come in the future. And it's your support and prayers that make these trainings possible - thank you!

Every £67 could provide persecution survival training for three church leaders, training them in a biblical response to persecution and helping them to understand their legal rights.

Women at persecution survival training.

What is covered in the training?

Open Doors local church partners provide this training in many of parts of the world, and the content is adapted for different cultures and contexts. In India, this is a rough overview of what we teach:

  • Global and local perspectives on persecution. This teaching helps to show our brothers and sisters that they aren’t the only ones facing persecution for their faith, and that there are others around the world who can empathise with their struggles.
  • Biblical perspective. Teaching on what the Bible says about persecution: that it is normal for those who choose to live a godly life. We look at how the Christians in the Bible and in church history have suffered for their faith.
  • Following His footsteps, even when they lead to the cross. Teaching on the persecution Jesus suffered and what it means to walk in His footsteps.
  • Knowing the enemy. Recognising that our war is against the heavenly forces, not against flesh and blood.
  • Biblical responses. Responding to persecution in a biblical way, through prayer and perseverance, not by taking revenge.
  • Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Here we analyse with the participants the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the local churches that they belong to or are involved in leading.
  • The Bible and prayer. We look at how the Bible and prayer are the integral to our life in Christ and how important they are for helping us face persecution.
  • Legal issues. We talk about the basic legal processes, such as how to file a FIR (first incident report), how to seek police help or even legal representation. This can help to tackle persecution to some extent, for example if the police authorities are cooperative - although this is not always the case in India.
  • Forgiveness and grace. We talk about how important it is to forgive those who persecute us, as Jesus did.

What do those who attend say about the training?

Sujit is a church leader who had to flee his village after he was attacked several times by extremists. After he attended persecution survival training, he said, “In my distress, I was greatly comforted when God spoke to me through the teachings in the seminar where I was reminded of Mary and Joseph who also had to flee to Egypt when Herod was seeking to kill Jesus.

“The lonely feeling in my heart also disappeared when I heard about so many people who were suffering with joy for Jesus. I was also able to share these teachings with my church members during my secret visits to my previous village.”

Tilak and his family had to flee their home after extremists threatened to kill them. They also attended a persecution survival training. Tilak says, “When we attended the persecution survival training we experienced change in our hearts and minds. I keep reminding myself of the things I learned in the seminar, especially the teaching that God is for us and He will always stand with us.”

Kiran, a sister from East India, says, “I have faced a lot of persecution because of my faith. My village have socially boycotted our family and they do not speak to us. Sometimes I used to feel discouraged. However, today I am extremely happy to be in this seminar. The teaching is so touching and inspiring. I have decided now in my heart that, whatever the circumstances, I will stand for Christ. I will continue to speak about my faith to others. Thank God for this blessed teaching.”

Every £67 could provide persecution survival training for three church leaders, training them in a biblical response to persecution and helping them to understand their legal rights.

Why is this training necessary in India?

India is number 11 on the 2018 World Watch List, Open Doors’ annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution, its highest ever position. The Indian government is led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). They believe that being a Hindu is part of Indian identity, and frequently turn a blind eye to attacks on those of other faiths. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is a militant Hindu nationalist group linked with the BJP; they have stated that they want to see India free of Christians and Muslims by the end of 2021. Open Doors church partners estimate that almost 24,000 Christians were physically attacked last year because of their faith. 

How can I help?

Your prayers and gifts are already making a huge difference to the lives of our persecuted brother and sisters in India. Thank you for helping our local partners to provide persecution survival training, alongside practical support such as providing emergency food supplies and medical care, and helping persecuted believers to start small businesses so they can support their families.

As Hindu extremists step up their efforts to free India of Christians, we must step up our response. Open Doors has been working through local churches and partners in India since 2000, and the work they do is already extensive, but they have a plan to double their impact and extend their reach to every corner of India over the next two years. Your long-term support can help to make that plan a reality.

You can give a gift to provide persecution survival training and other support to our persecuted brothers and sisters, or you can set up a monthly gift to support our persecuted brothers and sisters in India. 

And you can pray. We will be including prayer points for India in our prayer diary and our monthly email every month for the next two years to help you pray for your church family in India on a regular basis.

Please pray for Sujit, Tilak, Kiran, and all of our persecuted brothers and sisters in India, that God will protect them, provide for all their needs, and bring comfort to them and their families. Pray that the persecution survival training will continue to bring healing and hope to many persecuted believers in India.

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