01/28/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – On January 17, a saffron flag, a symbol of Hindu nationalism, was planted on a church in southern India that has been shut down for the past 10 months. The incident has left the local Christian community afraid that increased persecution is on the horizon.
The incident took place in Chittimitti Chintala village, located in the Cudapa District of Andhra Pradesh. The church’s pastor, Pastor James Prasad, claims this is just the latest sign of anti-Christian activities as radicals attempt to make it a “Christian-free” village.
Ten months ago, Pastor Prasad and his family were driven out of Chittimitti Chintala by village leaders. The village leaders summoned the pastor to a meeting and told him he had to leave the village because they did not want a church or any Christian prayers to take place in the village.
“It has been very hard moving from one place to another as we cannot go back to my home in Chittimitti Chintala,” Pastor Prasad told International Christian Concern (ICC). “I lived in that home for the last 22 years. Now I cannot even go into the village.”
Age 48, Pastor Prasad began sharing the Gospel in Chittimitti Chintala when he arrived in the village 22 years ago. After leading several house church groups, he built a small church where 40 to 50 Christians regularly gathered for worship. Since Pastor Prasad has been banished from Chittimitti Chintala, the Christian community left behind has been threatened with severe consequences if they do not return to their traditional religion.
Pastor Prasad sought assistance from local police to help him return to his home in Chittimitti Chintala. To date, police have done nothing to help the displaced pastor or his family.
“All I want is to go back to my house,” Pastor Prasad told ICC. “I am now wondering if the church will ever be opened for the members to gather and to do prayers.”
Incidents of anti-Christian violence continue to be reported from across India. In 2020 alone, the Evangelical Fellowship of India reports Christians suffered at least 327 violent incidents of persecution. Due to this severe persecution, Open Doors has ranked India the 10th most difficult country for Christians in the world.