By Carey Lodge, Christian Today.
Hundreds of thousands of Christians across India are faced with a sobering ultimatum: hide their faith, or risk harassment, intimidation, and even death.
Threats against churches, arson attacks on Christian property, and the harassment and violent abuse of new converts to Christianity are all on the rise in India, where just 2.3 per cent of the population identifies with the faith.
Two young women who have experienced such persecution are Meena, 32, and her 25-year-old sister, Sunita (names have been changed to protect identity).
They were severely beaten by a group of men from their village in Odisha state after news spread that they had converted to Christianity. Remarkably, they praise God for their experiences.
“We knew about persecution in theory because the Bible speaks about it,” Meena told researchers for Christian persecution charity Open Doors. “And when it happened, we thanked God for it.”
The sisters came to faith though a Christian radio show in 2004, and initially felt compelled to hide their conversion for fear of repercussions from local Hindu hard-liners. Two years later, though, they were baptised and began to attend church services. “My faith had grown stronger and I thought, ‘If I die, I will be resurrected,'” Meena explained.
However, about a year later locals held a meeting and decided that Christians were not welcome in their village. They called the sisters’ father, and pressurised him to force the women out of the house. He refused, but stopped paying for their food and clothing.
“We had to take care of ourselves,” Meena recalled. “The entire village rejected us, but we were blessed by the Lord.”
And while the GA222 attendees were so busy apologizing to everyone and beating their chests in a mighty “mea culpa,” who will apologize for these women who risk their lives for Jesus and who will not be swayed? Will anyone care or will we sweep the story under the rug and go on another bicycle trip to Portland wine country and sing another chorus of kumbayah? We must pay attention and we must listen to our sisters and brothers who carry the faith every day, even unto persecution and death. They carry the torch for all of us.