Foreign funding changes concern Christians

Narendra Modi addressing crowd.  (Image taken from Narendra Modi's personal feed on Flickr)

Narendra Modi addressing crowd.
(Image taken from Narendra Modi’s personal feed on Flickr)

India (MNN) — Religious oppression has become so obvious in India that even Prime Minister Modi, a Hindu nationalist, is addressing it as a problem.

However, indigenous Christians are telling Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions, that their biggest concern isn’t persecution. Instead, foreign funding changes are “top-of-mind” for many believers.

“The government might change their regulations about receiving foreign funds,” explains Christian Aid’s South Asia Director, Sarla Mahara.

“If that happened, that might be a big turning point for the ministries if they couldn’t receive help from overseas.”

Foreign funding changes

BJP Flag  (Image courtesy WikimediaCommons)

BJP Flag
(Image courtesy WikimediaCommons)

Right now, as long as indigenous missionaries have a SCRA license, they can receive foreign funding. However, leaders are telling Mahara that Modi’s government is looking to change that area of legislation.

Thankfully, “BJP does not have majority in one of the houses, and so it might be a challenge for them to [change] any kind of major amendment like that,” Mahara says.

But, the nationalist party isn’t likely to drop this foreign funding issue. Even if they can’t do anything this term, Mahara says, BJP will likely pursue it in the future.

In preparation, ministry leaders are working with Christian Aid Mission to develop income-generating projects. These projects can support believers as they share the Gospel.

“I think that’s the direction they’re going to go, even if the government amended the regulation they have right now,” Mahara states.

The “holy cow” story we shared with you recently is a prime example.

(Photo courtesy of Christian Aid Mission)

(Photo courtesy of Christian Aid Mission)

“This dairy project will generate at least 60% of the needed funds for this ministry,” says Mahara.

“While the window is open, I think this would be a good time to invest funds and resources into those kinds of programs right now.”

Interested? Visit Christian Aid Mission’s Web site to see which projects need the most help.

Highlighting potential foreign funding changes doesn’t downplay the reality of persisting persecution. It just underscores the fact that indigenous missionaries see persecution from a different perspective.

“No matter which government comes in, no matter how much persecution we have to face, our mandate is really from heaven,” Mahara says, relaying the message of indigenous leaders.

Persecution perspective

Christian Aid Mission assists more than 200 ministries with diverse areas of focus: church planting, discipleship, community development, and disaster relief. Many of these groups work among lower castes and unreached tribal peoples in remote areas–places where persecution is the most intense.

Christians protest on Dec. 2 after the burning of the interior of St. Sebastian’s Church in New Delhi on Dec. 1.  (Photo, caption courtesy of Morningstar News via Christian Aid Mission)

Christians protest on Dec. 2 after the burning of the interior of St. Sebastian’s Church in New Delhi on Dec. 1.
(Photo, caption courtesy of Morningstar News via Christian Aid Mission)

“The Church is strong, and the ministries are pretty committed,” Mahara says.

When Modi came into office last year and the BJP rose to power, indigenous missionaries could see the writing on the wall.

“They knew that [the BJP] would have a much more ‘radical’ stance, as far as the Christians were concerned,” explains Mahara.

But from each ministry leader, Mahara heard the same response.

“They may slow us down, they may make it a little bit harder for us to preach the Gospel, to go forward, but we’re not going to stop.”

Can you help these Christians stand firm in their faith?

“It is an every-day challenge for them; it’s like a battlefield,” notes Mahara.

“People need to be praying for these believers to be strong in their faith. We definitely need to pray for protection.”