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3 difficult choices for persecuted Christians in India

April 4, 2023 by Abigail Hart in Persecution updates

1) Deny Jesus and stay … 

2) Refuse to deny Jesus and leave—losing all of your possessions …  

3) Refuse to deny Jesus and stay—and be beaten and possibly killed  

This is exactly what many of our brothers in sisters in Chhattisgarh, India, faced in their communities earlier this year.  

We recently traveled to Central India to meet with many of these brave believers who were beaten and lost all their possessions but refused to deny Jesus.  

Because their lives are still threatened, we met in a secure location many miles from their villages. Over the course of several days, we talked with them, worshiped together and shared meals. We enjoyed Dubki Kadi, a tangy dish made of curds, a famous sweet called Gulab Jamun—and plenty of milk tea.  

We sat in a remote room on the first day to hear their stories and pray together. Each believer had a slightly different experience. Some had been beaten and taken to the hospital; others had escaped just before the mobs arrived. Many thought that it was the day they would die. But they all had one thing in common:  

Not one of them denied Jesus.  

How did it all start for these persecuted Christians? Our partners in the field say that the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), a Hindu nationalist group that seeks to remove Christians and all religious minorities from India, has been working with leaders in the tribal areas and training them to oppose believers. Now these teachings have spread through the villages of Chhattisgarh. Many of the leaders, known as the panchayat, decided to create a massive campaign to force Christians to deny Jesus and return to their religion—or leave their homes for good.   

The tensions started to build through the end of 2022. In early January of 2023, the panchayat followed through on their threats and led extremist mobs through Chhattisgarh, India, to confront believers, beating them with sticks and fists, stealing possessions and demolishing homes. A church service was also attacked in which the mob burned the building, scattered believers and warned the Christians they should never return. 

Thousands of persecuted Christians were displaced. Many had to seek shelter in other villages, some set up makeshift tents in distant communities and still others flooded into churches and stadiums to find shelter after the attacks.  

Later during our visit, I spent time with a young man named Kave. He wore navy blue pants, a light blue shirt tucked in neatly and a contagious smile. We shared tea together and talked about our families. He’s married with an eight-year-old son.  

Kave grew up as a devout Hindu but always felt something was missing. When he finally heard the gospel of Jesus in 2006, he knew he wanted to give his life to God and leave the faith of his family and country. He also knew that persecution would come. It wasn’t long before others in the village told him he was no longer allowed to use the well to draw water. He was ostracized and his community rejected him.   

But Kave never doubted his faith.  

In January, after leading a Bible study with other believers, Kave heard that an angry mob was on its way to his house. The other believers told him to leave and hide, but Kave refused. “My home is here. Why would I go? I didn’t do anything to anyone,” Kave said. 

That morning, 150 people from three different villages stormed Kave’s home. “Return to your Hindu faith or leave!” they shouted. But Kave told them he wouldn’t leave Jesus. “He has given me life,” he told the crowd.   

“Even if you kill me, I will not leave Jesus,” Kave added. 

That’s when the angry crowd became violent. People started hitting Kave. First, with open-handed slaps. Then, with closed fists. Once Kave fell to the ground, they began kicking him. 

The crowd shouted, “You will leave now!” as they continued to strike Kave.  

Eventually, the crowd left him, and some believers helped Kave from the ground. He knew it was unsafe to stay at home, so he spent the night sleeping in the forest. The next day, he heard that his house was destroyed and all his possessions were stolen.  

“If we would’ve stayed, they would’ve killed us,” Kave says. 

Today, Kave and his family are living in a shelter away from his village for their own safety. And even though only weeks have gone by, Kave doesn’t hold any anger toward his attackers. “Because Jesus forgave me, I will forgive them as well,” Kave shares. “God appointed me to share the gospel with these people—and to every corner of the world.” 

Kave encourages us to pray for the persecuted Christians of Chhattisgarh. So many have been attacked and beaten, and some have lost their homes and possessions. But he’s also encouraged to hear of the brave believers who refused to deny Jesus.  

“My prayer is that they all come to know Jesus. If I lose my life for the Lord, I will rejoice,” Kave says. 

The situation in Chhattisgarh is still tense, and many persecuted Christians are still unable to return to their homes for fear of violence. Please join us in prayer for these resilient brothers and sisters. 

-Ask God to work in the hearts of the authorities to provide protection for Christians who seek to return to their homes and gather what possessions they have left—like important documents and papers. 

Pray the believers who’ve lost so much will stay strong in their faith—even in the face of violent persecution from their neighbors. 

 –Ask God to give church leaders the wisdom to lead their scattered congregations during this difficult time of displacement. And pray many others seeking will see these believers’ lives and trust in the Lord themselves.  

About The Author
Tim Dustin is a staff writer for Global Christian Relief, a nonprofit Christian ministry that works to strengthen persecuted believers and raise awareness regarding Christian persecution. For more information, visit our website at

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