How many Bibles do you own? Can you remember where you keep them?
Maybe one or two. They’re probably sitting on your bookshelf, or next to your bed. Easy enough to find. But not in Chidananda’s house. And not in Poorani’s.
They’re from devout Hindu families. When they became Christians, they had to hide their faith. And their Bibles.
Persecution looks different in different countries, cultures and contexts. For these two Christians in India, persecution happened at home. Read their stories below. Pray for them. And praise God that they considered Jesus worth suffering for.
Chidananda; UESI India alumnus
“Initially I didn’t reveal my faith to my family because of fear. I used to read the Bible secretly at home or sometimes I would go 90 minutes early to college to read the Bible.
But my uncle came to know about my faith in Jesus, and he was furious with me. He forced me to stop my studies and he took me home. He had me beaten up and warned me strongly not to go to church or read the Bible. He shaved my head and wanted me cleansed from all religious impurity. I did not retaliate or speak a single word against him. I silently submitted to him because God had prepared me well in advance of this situation through his Word.
God spoke to me through Romans 8: 38, 39:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV)
That verse gave me strength. And in my quiet time, God spoke through 2 Timothy 1:8 and 3:12:
“…join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” (NIV)
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” (NIV)
So I believed that these things don’t happen without God’s knowledge!
I started praying about the situation and our staff workers prayed for me fervently as well. God assured me through the Bible. And my uncle actually changed his heart and sent me back to college.
These trials helped me to grow more in my faith in the Lord. God gave me confidence that my family will be transformed one day. Please pray for my family to know my Jesus.”
Poorani; PhD student; UESI India
“My father died in a road accident when I was three years old and my brother was two. My mother accepted Christ shortly after that. We lived with our maternal grandparents, who followed Hindu rituals and customs devoutly. Without telling her parents, my mother would take us to church. Yet there were times when she would be beaten by her parents for doing so.
I knew that as Christians we were not to bow before other gods. That wasn’t easy though. When my mum went to work, my brother and I would be under the care of our grandparents. They used to tell us that we could only eat if we worshipped their idols and put the white and red tilak on our foreheads. So there were days when my brother and I were hungry at home the whole day.
Even though my mum was an engineering student, she didn’t have a permanent job. Her siblings were in good government jobs, so her parents accused her saying that it was because she was a Christian that she was less successful. As grandchildren, we were always compared with our cousins. If we got just one mark less than them in exams they would start comparing our God with their so-called gods.
We didn’t have the freedom to carry a Bible to church or have one at home; we couldn’t sing at home or pray. Sometimes we would pray in bathrooms. If my grandfather found a Bible at home he would tear it up and burn it immediately.
During my 7th class my grandparents sent our family out of their house. Everyone thought life would get worse for us. But even though no one was there for us, God was with us. That year we had the freedom to have a Bible at home and carry a Bible to church without fear. We could sing and pray freely at home.
My grandparents still compare me with my cousins because my cousins are younger than me but are married already. I’m 27 years old and still single. Now whenever we meet any of our relatives, they always talk about my marriage. They suggest finding men from a non-believing background and pressurise me to agree. And again, they tell us that it’s because we became Christians that I’m not yet married. It’s a big challenge for us to face. But we know that God is in control and knows the plans He has for us.”
Praise God for such faith in the face of on-going persecution. And pray with us that God would continue to strengthen his people and grow his church across South Asia, despite severe opposition.
All ten of the countries in the IFES South Asia region appear in the Open Doors World Watch List. In eight of those countries, the level of persecution is considered ‘very high’ or ‘extreme’.
Our brothers and sisters in South Asia need our prayers.