India (MNN) — What if the fate of your religious freedom hung on the outcome of your nation’s elections? That’s kind of the case in India. India is now entering into its final stages of general elections, and a Hindu nationalist candidate is favored to win.
“It’s a little different than here in America because religion and politics are so closely intertwined in India,” explains Dave Stravers, President of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India.
“Some people are saying that this election will result in people in control who will push through a nationwide anti-conversion law.”
Five of India’s 28 states already have anti-conversion laws in place. This legislation makes it very difficult for people to change their religion.
“The effect of an anti-conversion law is to severely restrict evangelistic workers and churches, and in some cases, lead to the imprisonment of people who were baptized or those who baptized them,” Stravers adds.
Persecution happens mostly on the local level, Stravers says. Hindu radicals recently targeted two national Gospel workers involved in Mission India programs. The first woman was targeted because she operates a ministry with children.
“They beat her up, they threatened her; eventually she was rescued by her relatives,” shares Stravers. The other target was slightly older but just as vulnerable.
“The intention supposedly was, according to the report, to offer her as a human sacrifice to the gods in one of the local temples.”
Mission India is holding an international day of prayer for India on May 7 to stand with concerned believers in South Asia.
“We’re dividing the day up into 15-minute periods and asking people to sign up to pray for India during that time, for the Lord’s intervention,” explains Stravers.
“This is a big deal, and we’re asking the Lord to intervene in a way that would protect the witnessing activity of Christians, who’ve been so tremendously effective in bringing many, many thousands and even millions of people to know Jesus.”