01/29/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – On January 5, a house church was shut down in India’s Uttar Pradesh state after members of the Hindu Vahini group broke into the church and issued death threats against the pastor. Unfortunately, this closure is part of a larger pattern where house churches are being harassed by radical Hindu nationalists and shut down by local government authorities.
Pastor Veerendar Kumar led a house church congregation in Maholi village. According Pastor Kumar, 30 Christians regularly attended Sunday worship at the house church.
On January 5, three people claiming to be leaders of the Hindu Vahini group broke into the church while the worship service was ongoing. The three men began shouting at the pastor, using abusive language.
“They first interrogated me and then told me that I am a foreigner,” Pastor Kumar told International Christian Concern (ICC). “They said I have no right to live in India and they also told me that they will chase me out of the village or kill me if I continued to hold prayers.”
“The next day, more than 40 people came to the church and this time they came to beat me up,” Pastor Kumar continued. “By God’s grace I was not present at the church. However, church members told me that there was a dangerous situation and I should not go to that village to avoid a possible attack.”
According to local Christians in Maholi village, police also visited the church several times. These Christians suspect these police visits were an effort to take Pastor Kumar into custody.
Since January 5, the Christians of Maholi village have not gather for worship because they have been told that it is forbidden in the village. Pastor Kumar, who lives in a village located 12 miles away, has also not returned to Maholi village out of fear of attack or arrest.
Unfortunately, a new pattern of harassment and forced closures has emerged against the house church movement in Uttar Pradesh. Many local pastors have reported similar stories of harassment as well as false accusations of religious crimes used by radical to force the house churches to close.
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