persecution church

‘The Grace Prayer House’ was demolished at the dead of night by religious fanatics on the 2nd of September 2020, in Khammam, a district in the southern Indian state of Telangana. The attack is the aftermath of a Police complaint made against the fanatics who have been harassing the Church since 2019.

“At around 2:00am, my wife woke up with a start after hearing loud sounds outside. When we rushed out to check, we saw a few men from the community demolishing our Church building. They fled after seeing us” said *Pr. Shyam Kumar, in conversation with Persecution Relief.

Pr. Shyam and his family have been leading and serving a Church in a slum for the past 11 years. “There are around 180 Christians who are a part of our Church. All of them are residents of the slum” the Pastor added.

“In 2019, the same men who broke down our Church, interrupted our Sunday worship service, forced us out and locked up the Church. We immediately filed a police complaint against them and the inquiry is ongoing” Pr. Shyam explained.

Describing the intensifying persecution that the Church has been facing, the Pastor told Persecution Relief that the Church had been peacefully functioning for over a decade, until these particular men began to create trouble and cause them great inconvenience.

The Church has once again made a complaint and filed a FIR concerning the attack. “The Church was a safe haven for underprivileged slum dwellers to pray and worship Jesus Christ together. Over a span of 10 years, we painstakingly contributed our all to build and maintain it. Now, it has been deviously taken away from us” said Pr. Shyam.

As for the Church, they are now grieving from a significant loss. Just as a family pours in their all to build a safe house to live and thrive in, so was this ‘The Grace Prayer House’ built by a family Church to care, love and nurture its members in.

Numerous Church buildings and structures have been and continue to be vandalized, desecrated, demolished and encroached upon, in India. Sadly, the destruction of a Christian place of worship is not as significant as the destruction of other religious places in the country.

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In fact, I doubt these incidents, even remotely bother our governing authorities, let alone religious extremists’ groups. The loud celebrations of the building of temples has silenced the lamentation of over a thousand Churches.

In the 1st Half of 2020, Persecution Relief recorded 293 cases of Christian Persecution. In 2019 alone, we recorded the maximum number of 527 cases compared to 447 cases in 2018, 440 in 2017 and 330 in 2016. From January 2016 to June 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 2067 cases of Hate crimes against Christians in India.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, ‘Countries of Particular Concern’(CPC) In its 2020 report. The US State Department ranked India’s persecution severity at “Tier 2” along with Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past seven years, India has risen from No. 31 to No. 10 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, ranking just behind Iran in persecution severity.

Shibu Thomas  is Founder, Persecution Relief www.persecutionrelief.org


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