Odisha state has more intense persecution of Christians than anywhere else in India. In many districts, Christians must either reconvert to Hinduism, leave their village, or face death. Pray that churches might grow in unity, and in their ability to withstand persecution. Despite the troubles, the Church multiplies rapidly, mostly among tribal and Dalit peoples. 709 of the 799 people groups in Odisha have no Christians, according to a census. Pray for the effective use of audio Scripture, and Christian radio and TV programmes, as illiteracy is common.
- Punjab is the home state of the Sikhs and the only state where they are in the majority. Their famed Golden Temple is in Amritsar. A violent guerrilla war waged by Sikh extremists seeking independence led to up to 100,000 deaths, including that of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and caused much economic disruption over a decade from 1980. Praise God that peace came in 1992. Since then, there has been rapid and remarkable economic progress, with many thriving industries and a strong, developed infrastructure. Though tensions still exist, there is also healing of intercommunal wounds and unprecedented openness for the gospel.
- The Sikh religion with its unique doctrines and culture has spread to many parts of India and beyond. There are up to 25 million Sikhs in the world. Little specific Christian study of and dialogue with Sikhs has ever been undertaken. The Mazbahi, Jat, Ramdasias and Rai - all castes of Sikhs - are more responsive to the gospel. A number of agencies and indigenous churches are now reaching out. Praise God for the several Christian leaders from the Sikh community now actively professing and proclaiming the good news in Punjab and abroad.
- Most of the Christian community originated in the 19th Century from mass movements of depressed Chamar and Chuhra castes. Christians were underprivileged, generally nominal, discouraged and in decline. In the last 20 years, there has been a wave of outreach by many agencies and churches. The number of churches has grown and church attendance tripled. In the last decade, there has also been encouraging growth in local, indigenous Christian leaders ministering in Punjab. There are now over 100 denominations. GSCC and Operation Agape are two of several significant agencies planting churches. Praise God for His moving in Punjab; pray for a revived, effective and dynamic Church. Two main Bible colleges in Punjab (Punjab Bible College and Agape Institute of Leadership Development) offer degree courses, and over a dozen smaller Bible schools offer short-term courses.
- Christians are still a minority within a minority, most being from Dalit and tribal groups. However, there has been rapid growth in the Church, particularly in the south and among the Bhil tribe. Some inside sources claim as many as 300,000 believers — five times more than census figures. Most of these are believers who have discovered Jesus in the last 10 years. Praise God for such growth!
- Harassment of the small Christian community is increasing due to pressure by the BJP upon the state government. An anti-conversion bill passed in 2008 makes things even more difficult. Hindu extremists have targeted Christian ministries - including hospitals and orphanages - with such ruthlessness that even secular groups and sympathetic moderate Hindus are protesting against such treatment. Pray that all such attempts to destroy God's people would result in greater church growth. Pray that the hatred of extremists and the loving humility of Christians would draw many more into the Kingdom.
- Ministry in Rajasthan is multiplying despite persecution. Now, 165 organizations and churches work in the state. Indigenous ministries, such as Emmanuel Mission International, Native Missionary Movement and many others, are effectively reaching the needy, the lowly and those previously unevangelized. Rajasthan Bible Institute and Filadelfia Bible College train church planters and missionaries at a higher education level, and they themselves are also substantially engaged in outreach.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.