How many Christians are there in India?
There are just under 69 million Christians in India, but they make up just five per cent of the country’s Hindu-majority population.
How are Christians persecuted in India?
The persecution of Christians in India is intensifying in many parts of the country as Hindu extremists aim to cleanse India of the presence and influence of believers.
The driving force behind this is Hindutva, an ideology that disregards Indian Christians and other religious minorities as true Indians because they have allegiances that lie outside India, and asserts the country should be purified of their presence.
This is leading to an often violent and carefully orchestrated targeting of Christians and other religious minorities in many parts of India, including use of social media to spread disinformation and stir up hatred. Increasing numbers of states are implementing anti-conversion laws, which purport to prevent coerced conversion, but are often abused to harass and intimidate Christians with false accusations.
Most church leaders are men, and being a pastor is understood to be one of the riskiest vocations in India. Hindu extremists target leaders and their families to instil fear among the local Christian community. Persecution of Christian women and girls often takes the form of sexual harassment or sexual violence and, in some reported cases, trafficking. The daughters, sisters and wives of pastors are particularly vulnerable.
“If needed I will die for Jesus, but I will never leave Him.” Sumi, forced from her village because of her faith
What’s life like for Christians in India?
Simply being a Christian is enough to be in acute danger of persecution in many parts of India. For those active in telling others about Jesus, the risk is heightened even further.
Sumi* and her family were amongst several Christians forced from their village because of their faith. They set up homes on farmland, but the conditions were poor.
Despite threats and attacks by village extremists, Sumi’s husband, Ravi, kept telling others about Jesus. “That was the joy of his life,” she shares. Tragically, Ravi’s perseverance and bravery cost him his life. He was shot dead.
Clutching her Bible close to her chest, Sumi – now a single a mother of four – remains steadfast in her devotion to Jesus. “I will continue living here, and will continue the ministry of my husband,” she says.
*Name changed for security reasons
How can I help Christians in India?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in India. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors partners strengthen the church in India by providing Bibles, emergency aid, persecution survival training, livelihood training and community development projects.
Lord Jesus, help our persecuted brothers and sisters in India to stand strong in their faith and shine as stars (Philippians 2:15) in their local communities. Continue to manifest Your love and power through healings and miracles. Guard Your children from harm and equip them for the challenges they face. Provoke social media companies to do more to combat the use of their platforms to spread disinformation and hatred. Soften the hearts of influential local leaders and officials towards Christians, so that greater protection is given to them. Amen.