This month, the jewelry pieces we sent out came from artisans in India. Included with the jewelry was a prayer card for your fridge with prayer points to encourage you to partner with us in praying for India. Our hope is that you remember to stop and lift up India any time you see the card, and also when you wear your jewelry.
I have one of those cards on my own fridge and have had India on my heart. One of the thoughts that has surfaced is I really don’t know much about the country at all. I can point it out on a map, and I can identify some of the architecture and clothing styles as “Indian” when I see them, but I can’t say that I know anything about what is going on there for Christians.
So I’ve decided to take a closer look.
India is beautiful. So are the people. The colorful saris and turbans are iconic. But what’s it like for our brothers and sisters there in every day life? Below are just a few political, economical, and cultural facts to help create a picture for you. I’m only skimming the surface, but it’s a start.
India is a democracy– the world’s largest, in fact. And earlier this year, the fundamentalist Hindu political party (Bharatiya Janata Party) won the majority of the seats in the state legislature in Uttar Pradesh- the most populated region. As they gained control, they began passing anti-Christian legislation.
The BJP promised to introduce national legislation to restrict “missionary” activity and halt evangelistic actions. In 2016, the All India Christian Council documents an almost 20 percent increase in attacks against Christians, a 40% rise in violence against Christians, and the killings of Christians had doubled.
In addition to the political and religious climate, there are great economical hardships. The statistics are staggering. There are over 800 million people in poverty. Only 1 in 4 people can read. 48% of children under age 5 are too small for their age.
The politics are scary and the economics are hard. But the stories that touched me the most were the ones that were steeped in cultural belief systems, such as dowry deaths and bride-burning. We all know what a dowry is, but I hadn’t really thought about what it meant. The concept of a dowry removes value from the female, based on the idea that the man’s family deserves compensation for taking on the burden that she is. If her family cannot pay as much as the groom’s family was expecting, death threats and violence begin. “Bride-burning” is one such practice, where the bride’s in-laws set her on fire. (Only 15% of reported cases go to court!)
GOD LOVES INDIA
All of the realities above are heavy. And for Christians just like you and I– it’s their REAL life. It’s happening today! There’s a hungry child. An angry, lost politician. A scared, new bride fearing for her life.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not done looking at India. God loves India! And we can open our eyes past our own four walls and ask God for India. We can partner with what He is doing. We can remember our brothers and sisters, and speak life into their situations.
There are ministries we have found that are on the ground. Their testimonies are powerful and their work is significant. In my next blog post, I’ll be showcasing the first of these. I believe as we put names and faces to these stories, our own heart for India will increase.