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Burned church
Burned remnants of the church.
Photo: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

On February 5th, the thatched-roof building where Christians in Kistaram, Chhattisgarh, used to gather for worship had been burned to the ground. Investigations suggest that an opposing local police officer named Bhavesh Shinde was responsible for the crime. (To review information provided in our initial report on the attack, go to our country report.)

However, more than three months later, little has been done to bring the perpetrator to justice. Within days of the fire, church members submitted a written request for an inquiry and called for Shinde's dismissal. Affidavits were submitted by two villagers stating that Shinde attempted to get them to burn down the building, and then later called to inform them that he was responsible for setting the place of worship on fire. A complaint has also been filed with the Human Rights Commission. In late April, police finally took statements from witnesses after pressure was applied from the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum.

Following the church's destruction, Shinde threatened the targeted Christians – indicating his plans to have them arrested if they ever attempted to gather again for worship. Despite these threats, the church members have since rebuilt their building.

As Christians in India only make up about 2.3 percent of the country's overall population, they have become the targets of many threats and acts of violence. In 2021, the United Christian Forum documented at least 486 violent incidents of persecution throughout the country, calling it "the most violent year" for Christians. Of those 486 cases, formal police reports were registered 34 times. For more information on the many challenges facing Christians in India, go to our country report.

Pray that the authorities will take appropriate action to ensure all who were responsible for the destruction of this church are brought to justice. May Christians in Kistaram continue to consistently demonstrate the love of Jesus to all those around them, leading many to repentance and a thriving faith in Him. Pray that political leaders throughout India will take the rights of all citizens into account and, therefore, pass laws that are equitable to all.

Current Ministry Projects

In addition to providing persecuted Christians legal support and rehabilitation assistance, VOMC cares for children of martyrs by ensuring they have a safe home in which to be nurtured both physically and spiritually. VOMC also partners to equip Christians in India with Biblical training and offers specialized ministry to further strengthen and support marginalized, persecuted Christian women.

Project Funds: Families of Martyrs, Equipping the Saints, Legal Defence, Relief and Development, Women’s Ministry

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
1,339,330,514 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Indo-Aryan (72), Dravidian (25), Mongoloid and other (3)

Religion (%)
Hinduism (79.8), Muslim (14.2), Christianity (2.3), Sikh (1.7), other (2)

Leader
President Ram Nath Kovind (2017)

Government type
Federal parliamentary republic

Legal system
Based on English common law; separate personal law codes apply to Christians, Hindus and Muslims.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for India

Despite the intimidation and violence that have taken place in many of India's states, may Christians wisely yet unashamedly preach the Gospel. Pray that indigenous Christians and foreign missionaries will minister in ways that do not hint at fraudulent conversions, unmasking the intentions behind the anti-conversion legislation. Intercede for India's leaders, that they may reign with justice and righteousness.

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