During the 40 days of Lent I’m committed to praying each day for Christians in the 40 countries where the cost of being a follower of Christ is highest. I invite you to do the same. The information on the prayer needs of each country comes from a combination of Open Doors, Barnabas Fund and Operation World.
Today we are praying for India
The Hindutva ideology, which seeks to enforce Hindu dominance in society, has been advancing at a fast rate. Christians are a particularly soft target since they do not retaliate, as demonstrated by the systematic violence against Christians in Orissa and Karnataka in 2008-2009. In 2010 nine Christians were killed. There were numerous reports of Christians being arrested and assaulted, and church buildings and schools being damaged. Yet the church is growing rapidly, and unity is increasing as a result of the mounting opposition felt by every denomination.
Answer to Prayer
The restoration of political centrism – following the election defeat of a Hinduistic government with extremist tendencies – has returned a measure of religious freedom and has overseen economic growth and the addressing of injustices inherent to the caste system. Burgeoning numbers of indigenous NGOs, policy changes meant to uplift those in (or beneath) the lowest strata of the caste system and even legal changes all point toward a society looking to be more modern, pluralistic and humane.
Challenge for Prayer
Political, economic and social challenges to the country place a great burden upon India’s government. Much positive progress has been made in many areas; to consolidate and build on such progress, prayer is called for. Pray for India’s leaders, that they might:
a) Continue to uphold the constitution by maintaining religious freedom and protecting religious and ethnic minorities. Religious freedom and affirmative action provisions in the constitution have recently come under threat. Some state governments have a poor record for abuse of human rights and discrimination against Christians, Muslims and Dalits; several states have passed anti-conversion laws that, among other things, deny state benefits to low-caste people who become Christian.
b) Uproot corruption in all levels of government – from national to state levels and right down to the local level. Mass media is a powerful means of exposing corruption, and the Right to Information Act forces government staff to be more accountable. With 100 of the 543 members of Parliament having criminal cases pending against them in 2010, clearly the system needs transparency. Pray for courage and resoluteness to stay the course when allowing a culture of corruption to persist is a much easier and safer option.
c) Tackle the serious ills of society with greater commitment and effectiveness – reduce malnutrition, which affects 40% of the population; improve the national infrastructure; deal with widespread use of child labour, bonded labour and female infanticide; tackle the rapid spread of AIDS and serious environmental degradation.
d) Address the growing threat of Maoist/Naxalite insurgency. The stretch of rural India from Nepal down to Andra Pradesh is known as the Red Corridor. These movements threaten stability and security, both locally and regionally. They also threaten the healthy growth of the Church through Naxalite infiltration of Christian communities and the general disruption caused by violence.
e) Manage the economic situation with wisdom. India has the world’s highest number of poor, the fourth-most millionaires and the greatest disparity between rich and poor. Millions enter the workforce every year; millions of jobs must be created to sustain them. Amid a growing economy and a growing middle class, ways to reduce poverty must also be found.
f) Wisely address increasing threats to stability, including terrorism, tensions with neighbouring countries, and Hindu nationalist groups and their targets: Christians, Muslims and Naxalites/Communists.
- That leadership and discipleship training programmes would help believers grow in faith and maturity
- For the peaceful resettlement of Christians still displaced by the violence in Orissa
- Ask God to provide for children orphaned in religious riots.