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11/22/2023 India (International Christian Concern) —  A house church in Uttar Pradesh was raided by police in the middle of their Sunday service early last month, leaving a congregation temporarily without a pastor. During the raid, police confiscated church property as evidence, including Bibles, the PA system, and the pulpit.  

Pastor Chotelal, along with four other members of his church, were then taken into custody on charges of converting Hindus to Christianity. After being interrogated for several hours, the four men arrested with the pastor were released the same day. However, Pastor Chotelal remained in custody for more than a month.  

The pastor has been serving in his village for more than 30 years, and on average, 100 people gather in his house for worship every Sunday. He has faced increasingly difficult and aggressive opposition since he started his church planting ministry, but this is the first time he had to spend time in jail and be released on bail.  

Almost daily, police come to my house to check if I am involved in conducting prayers,” Pastor Chotelal said. “I have had to shut down many worship services in every church that I oversee in the area. However, through it all, God has been good to us.” 

Speaking about his time in the jail, Pastor Chotelal said, “I met eight other Christians who were being held for the same reasons, and it was a great time to extend mutual encouragement and counsel to one another. I was also able to witness to inmates of other faith backgrounds and give them Bibles.” 

Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, has become an increasingly difficult place for Christians to practice their faith in recent years. In the three years since the state government enacted anti-conversion laws, hundreds of churches have been shut down, and more than three hundred Christians have been jailed on false charges of forced conversions.

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