Christian Leaders Face New Challenges Amid India’s National Lockdown
By ICC’s India Correspondent
04/08/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Across India, pastors and evangelists serving in rural and more impoverished communities are suffering. For these Christian leaders, dependent on the merger tithes and offerings their congregations collect, India’s national lockdown has left them with few resources from which to support themselves, their families, and the congregations they lead.
On March 24, India’s Prime Minister announced a 21-day lockdown to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This sudden announcement gave India’s 1.3 billion citizens only hours to prepare for the lockdown that is widely considered the largest and strictest in the world. Among the activities prohibited by the national lockdown are religious gatherings of all faiths.
“Tears roll down my cheeks when I start praying for my congregation during this lockdown,” Pastor Moses told International Christian Concern (ICC). “The only thing I can do for my congregation now is to pray for them.”
Pastor Moses, who goes by a single name, leads a Baptist congregation in India’s Telangana state. He fears that the COVID-19 lockdown may have irreversible effects on his congregation.
“As a shepherd of my congregation, I know my sheep and their needs,” Pastor Moses explained to ICC. “When I think of the weaker members of my congregation and people who are new to the faith, I am troubled and pained. How will these individuals survive in the absence of spiritual nurturing and fellowship?”
According to Pastor Moses, it’s been nearly four weeks since the doors of his church in Madanapuram village have been opened. He is concerned that the national lockdown may continue to stretch several more weeks.
“So far, it has been a miracle of how God has provided for us,” Pastor Ratnam, head of a small independent church, told ICC. “The road ahead is not going to be easy for us, but we must trust in God for our next meal.”
Pastor Ratnam, age 60, lives with his widowed daughter and grandchildren in Potireddypeta village, located in Telangana, and leads a small church of 30 people. Before the national lockdown, Pastor Ratnam’s weekly routine included visiting six other villages on a bicycle provided by ICC nearly a year ago. The nationwide lockdown has put a stop to all of these weekly activities. However, Pastor Ratnam continues to work hard to provide spiritual leadership for his congregation.
“I am able to pray and exhort my congregation on the phone calls,” Pastor Ratnam said. “Hopefully, their faith will survive this lockdown.”
“However, the most challenging situation is meeting the needs of the family,” Pastor Ratnam explained. “There have been no church gatherings for more than three weeks. The little income I used to get from the church offering and tithes has stopped.”
To combat the COVID-19 pandemic in India, Christians, including pastors and evangelists, are doing their part by staying home and not holding regular religious gatherings. However, the national lockdown is creating many new challenges for pastors and evangelists in rural and more impoverished communities. Among these new challenges is the lack of income these leaders receive to support themselves and their families. Please remember these Christian leaders in prayer.