India’s Christians Reflect on Another Five Years of BJP Rule
By ICC’s India Correspondent
06/05/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – India’s national elections concluded with another thumping victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). For many Indian Christians, the election results have been both a disappointment and a cause for fear.
Prior to the conclusion of the elections, Christians and other religious minorities hoped for a change in government. This is primarily due to the Hindu nationalism and religiously divisive rhetoric the BJP has employed for political gain and has resulted in ever escalating levels of religious intolerance.
While the results of last month’s election have left many Christians groups disappointed and uncertain about their future, many continue to trust in God for a better future. International Christian Concern (ICC) spoke to several Christian leaders across India regarding the election results to gauge their reaction to the re-election of the BJP.
“When the election schedule was released, we organized a prayer chain in all 4,000 churches that are under my supervision,” Dr. Paul R.T. Maran, National Bishop of Indian National Apostolic Diocese, told ICC. “We were praying for a change in the government.”
“The number one issue remains safety for Christians,” Dr. Maran explained to ICC. “The Church in India must depend on the Holy Spirit for the strength to endure persecution. We must also use the laws of the land to advocate for justice, taking advantage of the rights that the constitution gives us irrespective of religious identity.”
Dr. Maran went on to encourage Christians to live out the Gospel’s message regardless of the opposition they receive.
“We must also use the laws of the land to advocate for justice, taking advantage of the rights that the constitution gives us irrespective of religious identity.”
“I fervently hoped for a different outcome because our circumstances as minorities would have improved under a different government,” Pastor Ram Chandar from Uttar Pradesh explained to ICC. “But now we don’t have any other option by to face our tough reality.”
While the election was still ongoing, Pastor Chandar was beaten by Hindu radicals while leading an Easter Sunday worship service at this church. Following the attack, police imprisoned Pastor Chandar and his brother after they were falsely accused of engaging in forced conversions.
Reflecting on what the re-election of the BJP means for his immediate situation, Pastor Chandar said, “The worst thing that can happen is imprisonment. However, that is not enough to cause me to stop following Jesus.”
In Bihar, a state where the BJP and their allies swept the elections, Pastor Jacob Mani works as the head pastor of a small cottage church in Gopalgunj. Reacting to the news of the BJP victory, Pastor Mani said, “There is a very rough road ahead for us. The Christian community is definitely deeply disappointed with the results, but we cannot run away from the pressure and threats. We have to find ways to adapt and survive.”
“I fasted for three days to pray for the elections,” Pastor Mani shared with ICC. “Just like me, there were many prayer movements across the country for the elections. All I can say now is, I know God is in control. He will lead us into the future. All of the cottage churches, including the one that I run, are under threat, but only time will reveal our destinies. For now, we are trusting God for His protection.”
While there is cause for concern for the future of India’s Christians, much hope remains. Beyond the disappointment and fear expressed by many Indian Christians, there are also deep commitments to their Christian faith and the belief that God is still in control. May we pray that their trust in God will surmount their fear and that God, who cares for His children, will be their guide and strength in the difficult times ahead.
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