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India is not Bollywood
Exclusion, hatred and violence are part of everyday life for Christians in India. The persecution increases dramatically. Still, the churches are growing.
"Madam! Selfie, please? » In no other country have I posed for more cellphone photos. No train ride, no visit to a restaurant, no shopping went by without curious questions and pleasant conversations. So much openness, so much friendliness! And what a discrepancy to the harrowing reports of the brutal persecution of religious minorities in India.
We are on our way to visit churches, encourage partners, and portray Christians suffering from the growing persecution. Their stories are exemplary of what millions of their brothers and sisters experience across the subcontinent. In 2018 India moved up to 10th place in the World Tracking Index. In 2011, the country was still in 31st place.
But not only is the persecution growing, Christianity is also spreading. In Delhi we meet Reverend Vijayesh Lal, General Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, the Evangelical Alliance of India. He tells an example from the state of Rajasthan, where a right-wing nationalist politician wanted to exterminate the Christians: “This man swore to make the district of Banswara [with 100,000 inhabitants] Christian-free within three years. As a result there were many attacks, pastors were beaten up and put in prison, but the church has grown even more. "For Lal this is a sign of God's power:" The church is God's church. And God says: They will not overcome the gates of hell. "
Prayer makes a difference
So is persecution a factor in growth? Lal denies: »In Christian circles around the world it is said: Whenever persecution breaks out on Christians, the church grows. That is not right. Whether the church grows depends on the reaction of Christians to the persecution. "Lal calls on Christians around the world to grapple with the political, social and religious realities of India:" There are many romantic myths associated with India . For example, that India is a tolerant, non-violent country. No, India is not Bollywood! ”If you look closely, you will quickly see that the Church in India is suffering. That is why Lal calls for prayer for his country: "We need prayers more than anything, because we believe that they make a difference."
Bad for the Indian image
At the same time, the General Secretary encourages being a voice for Indian Christians: »India is very aware of its global image. If the worldwide Christian community speaks up, then the situation can improve for us. "Lal adds an example:" At a meeting with the Indian prime minister, he accused us of the negative reports on the persecution of Christians in India Image of the nation. We then asked him what, in his opinion, was actually causing the damage: the negative reports or the fact that these incidents were actually happening.
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