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Vikas: arrested in India for praying, and released through your support

Prayer shouldn’t make you a violent criminal. But that’s how Vikas* was treated by police in India, just for sharing the healing power of God. Find out how your support is helping Vikas and others like him.

Open Doors recently published a report, We’re Indians Too, that serves to highlight the scale, reach and debilitating nature of human rights violations against minority communities in India. This ranges from religion-based violence to arbitrary arrests. 

One man who has experienced these violations first-hand is Vikas, a 34-year-old pastor from India. He has been arrested more than once, simply for praying for healing. Thanks to your continuing support, he is being helped practically and spiritually by local Open Doors partners.

Vikas

“My faith became so strong”

Vikas converted from Hinduism after an encounter with a man from a neighbouring village led him to a church. As Vikas began sharing his faith with friends and neighbours, he started facing resistance from local Hindus. Vikas was threatened with physical violence or expulsion from the community. 

“I got a lot of threats. But I never stopped believing. My faith became so strong,” Vikas says.

Rather than being discouraged, Vikas’s faith grew and he eventually became a pastor.

The persecution continued, and started to become more severe in 2015. Three policemen interrupted a service where Vikas was praying for the congregation. They accused Vikas of speaking against their gods, and illegally converting people to Christianity.

But Vikas responded, “Ask the people who are here. I don’t force them to become Christians. These are people who need healing, so they come here.” 

On this occasion, the police left because nobody would testify against Vikas. Three years later, in 2018, he wasn’t so lucky. As Vikas recounts, “One night I was conducting a night of prayer. There were about 50 people who came for healing. I prayed for them.” That’s when the police came to arrest him.

Every £30 could equip two Rapid Response teams for a month as they bring emergency aid to victims of violence.

Every £93 could provide ongoing practical help for three believers in India who have been persecuted for their faith.

“Lord, I believe you can release me”

They arrived using loud speakers, to make Vikas seem dangerous. Loud speakers are only used by Indian police when in pursuit of a violent criminal, to warn people to be cautious.

As We’re Indians Too reports, arbitrary arrests and the prohibition of peaceful religious activities are increasingly common in India. Violence is significantly more prominent in states that have passed anti-conversion laws than in those that have not, and attackers often accuse their victims of conversion activities.

“The police officers brought me to the local police station and put me in jail there,” Vikas continues. “I was really sad when this happened. But I wasn’t discouraged and I kept on praying, ‘Lord, you didn’t allow Paul to stay in prison, so I believe you can release me too. Please, don’t let my brothers and sisters feel hopeless that I am here.’”

Vikas was recalling Acts 16, where Paul and Silas were imprisoned but kept ‘praying and singing hymns to God’ (Acts 16:25) and ‘suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose’ (Acts 16:26).

God didn’t use an earthquake this time, but He did use your support. That night, some of the members of Vikas’ church contacted Open Doors’ local partners; they were able to get him out on bail the next morning. The police intended to file a complaint, but they didn’t. Vikas says, “If you weren’t there for me, they would probably have filed a case against me. No one would have been there to fight for me.”

 

Every £30 could equip two Rapid Response teams for a month as they bring emergency aid to victims of violence.

Every £93 could provide ongoing practical help for three believers in India who have been persecuted for their faith.

 

Your support is making a difference

Your giving and prayers are enabling Open Doors’ local partners to continue to support Vikas in practical ways. He and his family were recently forced to leave their house, because of his ministry, and your support helped Open Doors partners to find them a new place to live, and provide them with financial support.

Vikas also knows now that he isn’t alone. Shortly after his imprisonment, he was invited to come to a persecution survival training course, run by Open Doors’ local partners. He says, “When I went to the training, I came to realise that there are many people standing next to me. Thank you for your prayers for me.”

Vikas is sharing all he learned on the training with others. “I now encourage people because I know they are not alone. They are also supported by prayers.”

Please keep standing with Vikas in prayer. He says, "Please pray that God will keep filling me with His Spirit so that I might be able to have more compassion with other people. Pray that I will be free to share the gospel without people opposing me.”

As well as that prayer, please pray:

  • For protection against violence for Christians in India
  • That God would frustrate the plans of those who seek to arrest Christians under anti-conversion laws
  • That those in power who read We’re Indians Too would be moved to enact change. 

*name changed for security reasons