We serve Christians around the world whose brave faith in Jesus means they are, beaten, threatened, imprisoned, tortured, falsely accused, disowned and hated.

INDIA: ‘DO NOT BE AFRAID’ – HARi’S STORY OF BRAVE FAITH

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Hari has been thrown out of his home, his church has been closed and he’s been arrested under false accusations – but nothing will stop him from following Jesus.

It all started when a pastor visited Hari’s* village in India to tell people about Jesus. Hari was intrigued by the message he heard – but was also warned of the dangers it would bring.

He watched as three families from his tribe became Christians through the pastor, only to be driven out of the village as their choice to follow Jesus was seen as a rejection of the communities traditional beliefs.

The families fled to the pastor’s village, where they were warmly welcomed. Together with the message he had earlier heard from the pastor, this had a profound impact on Hari. “I was so amazed at the love these Christians showed to each other,” he says. “I knew this was the God that I wanted to believe and follow. From then on, there was no turning back for me.”

His family were furious – just as he expected. “My parents hated me. My brothers and sisters forced me to leave the house because of my newfound faith.”

Despite this, Hari stood firm in his faith, even deciding to study Christian theology. After completing the course, he dedicated himself to full-time ministry in his village, with many people giving their lives to Jesus. 

Arrests and accusations

Threatened by the fast growth of Hari’s church, extremists looked for ways to undermine him. He was falsely accused of forcing people to become Christians. In India, many states have an anti-conversion law to prevent people being forced to change their beliefs, but the laws are often used to target Christians and stop people from leaving Hinduism.

“The extremists influenced local police and had me arrested on false charges of forceful conversion, but the police could not find any evidence and had to let me go,” he says. “I continued my ministry and then, one day, I baptised some people. These were people who wanted to be baptised out of their free will – but the police arrested me. Again, they found no evidence and had to release me.”

Worse was to come. “During our Easter service, religious extremists, along with the police, barged into our service. They threatened the believers, telling them they would be arrested and drove them all away from the church.”

Hari was called to the police station and questioned, along with two other Christians from his church. “The police asked us, ‘Who gave you the right to do this?’ I replied: ‘The Indian Constitution gives me right to preach, and my Bible and the God whom I worship also give me the right to preach. I do not force people – they hear my preaching and, if they like it, they come to the church.’”

But the police refused to listen. They told me not to conduct church services anymore. The extremists standing there threatened to kill me – right in front of the police.”

STRONG AND COURAGEOUS

Hari’s church was closed and he’s since been unable to get it reopened. “We now gather in secret – only in small numbers in houses,” he says. “We take precautions, but I am confident that, even if they kill me for my faith, I want to continue to serve the Lord. Christ has given me His life and, all these years, He has protected me amongst all these threats. I know there is so much work yet to complete for God’s Kingdom.”

“In every disappointing moment, I was reminded of 1 Chronicles 28:20: ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.’ This promise keeps me and my family motivated to do more of God’s work, as we know that the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Nothing can stop us from loving Christ and serving Him.”

God answers his prayers – through your support

Hari is immensely touched by the provision of practical and pastoral support by Open Doors local partners, including food and help for his business. It’s an answer to his prayers. 

“It is so joyful to see God’s children standing with me in the midst of persecution,” he says. “As a pastor of a small church, offerings from believers had been our only source of income. Since the church was shut down, I have been unable to manage the expenses of my family. I prayed to the Lord for help, and He sent you. The help you have provided us is a great encouragement and helps us attain sufficient income to sustain our family. Our God has indeed not forsaken or failed us. Thank you so much for your help and support.”

Hari and his church miss gathering in their church building, but they continue meeting in secret and expressing their faith, in whatever ways they can. “Continue praying for us,” asks Hari. “I am very convinced that Christ is able to protect what we have entrusted unto Him.”

*Name changed for security reasons

PRAY NOW...
1

That Hari’s family will continue to find peace in difficult circumstances and continue to have strong faith

3

That this trend of false accusations against Christians in India will stop.

2

That Hari’s church will be able to reopen, and ask God to encourage them as they gather secretly

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