Due to increased persecution and government restriction, the face of evangelism in India has been forced to change. In many ways, the days of open air Gospel meetings and public outreach events are over. With intense persecution from Hindu radicals, many of these public events are now targeted for attack. Also, the government has began to restrict the entrance and activities of Christian missionaries. For most foreigners, it is illegal for them to make public speeches at all. As India continues to become more and more religiously intolerant, one to one evangelism by local Christian leaders has become the most important way of spreading the Gospel.
11/04/2016 India (Gospel Herald) – The anti-Christian bent of the government that took power in India in 2014 renders the work of indigenous missionaries all the more important, a native ministry leader said.
Foreign missionaries are viewed with increasing suspicion, and the public preaching that many undertake is less tolerated in the recent, more hostile climate, a ministry leader based in southern India said. One-on-one evangelism has become more important as Hindu nationalists have attacked open-air events, and indigenous missionaries with intimate knowledge of local culture are best positioned for sharing personal faith, he said.
“There is opposition all over,” the ministry leader said. “Missionaries used to come to our grounds. Now if somebody comes, depending upon their visa, they are not allowed to speak in public. We can do an indoor program, but not in public, especially if they come on a tourist visa, and most come on tourist visas. There are more restrictions now.”
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014 in a government coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist atmosphere has encouraged violence against Christians as extremists attack with little fear that authorities will take action against them. At least 134 incidents of violence against Christians in India were carried out in first half of 2016 alone, compared with 147 in all of 2014 and 177 in 2015, according to the Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission.
The attacks from Jan. 1 to June 30 represent just a fraction of the actual cases, according to the commission.
“We used to just go to the streets and preach the gospel,” he said. “It’s pretty much condemned. In the remote villages it may happen, but in other areas there will be opposition.”
“Our government has the philosophy now that India is only for Hindus,” the ministry leader said. “If I ask somebody from the U.S. to come to my area and preach at a public meeting, somebody will come and say, ‘You can’t do that.’ They view Westerners as changing people’s minds, their culture, converting them to their world, and the allegation is that we’ll give money to them.”