Already, following the consecration of the temple, churches have been targeted.
After a parade celebrating the opening of the temple, 150 boys on bikes all shouting, “Jai Shri Ram,” meaning “Glory to Lord Rama,” stopped outside of a church. Several boys climbed onto the building’s roof and put flags with the words “Jai Shri Ram” on top of the cross. Seeing this, a mob joined in, all chanting and cheering. The boys then went on to do the same at three other churches.
Thankfully, services had already finished for the day, so the churches were mostly empty. There were no physical or verbal exchanges directed at any church members. But even recently, India has been home to brutal persecution of Christians at the hands of Hindu extremists, examples being the attacks in Chhattisgarh and Manipur. With this temple now at the heart of where they live, believers are bracing for unrest—the only question is when.
Although physical persecution hasn’t yet been present following the consecration of the temple, Christians feel targeted simply because of the date chosen to open the temple: January 22—the 25th anniversary of the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons.
Graham arrived in India to care for tribal people suffering from leprosy. He used the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with the people he helped. Many were even baptized. Then, on January 22, 1999, Graham, along with his two sons, took a rest break while traveling to a local gathering of Christian leaders. They slept in their station wagon. Before long, the vehicle was attacked by 50 armed radicals, who then set the vehicle on fire, killing the three.
January 22 is a day Indian Christians honor annually, remembering the sacrifice of Graham and his love for the Indian people. Many feel the consecration of the temple on the same day is no accident. One believer said, “How could it even be a coincidence?”
Babu Varghese, author of the book, “Burnt Alive,” which tells the story of Graham’s murder, told GCR, “Our remembrance of this shocking incident was washed out in media hype over the temple dedication.”
Romans 12:8 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This new temple is expected to draw over 100 million passionate Hindus a year. Our prayer is that the 350,000 Christians in the area will live at peace with the Hindus; that there will be no radical violence or targeted persecution.
Join us now in praying for the continued safety of Christians in Uttar Pradesh.
Lord, India has been a tinderbox of Christian persecution, in Chhattisgarh, Manipur and beyond. We now pray for the safety of believers in Uttar Pradesh. God, Christians are the vast minority and are easy targets. We pray for their safety from Hindu radicals who will be visiting this new temple. We pray these followers of You will be left alone to worship as they see fit. And our bold prayer is that Christians will interact with these Hindus and pray for them, sharing the love of Jesus with them maybe for the first time. Amen.
Photo caption: A Hindu mob arrives outside a church in Uttar Pradesh
About the authors
Anto Akkara and Tim Dustin write breaking news stories of Christian persecution out of India and the rest of the world. Get the latest blogs and prayer requests at GlobalChristianRelief.org