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Morning Star News Southern India Correspondent

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

HYDERABAD, India, Sept. 25, 2020 (Morning Star News) – Punita Kumari was caring for her family in eastern India the morning of Sept. 14 when leaders of about 25 hard-line Hindu assailants armed with bamboo sticks forced their way into their one-room home.

Saying Christians could not live in their village of Jhikatia, Bihar state, the assailants dragged her husband, Pastor Vinouwa Das, out and began beating him, Kumari said.

His sister tried to shield him, and they beat her too, she said. Kumari gathered up her newborn and rushed out, pleading with the assailants to talk about any grievances rather than attack, but they ignored her, she said.

“They shouted at me that we must vacate the premises immediately, and that they will not allow Christian services in the village,” Kumari told Morning Star News. “They were furious and beat me up also with the wooden sticks. It was not even a month since I was out of labor. My newborn also suffered injuries along with me.”

Among the assailants: members of the once-Christian family who had granted them land for their home and a one-room church building, as hard-line Hindus had pressured them to renounce Christianity and reclaim the land, she said.

The assailants intercepted and attacked Pastor Das again on Sept. 17 as he was on his way to a market to buy essential items for their home and baby, she said.

“They threatened him that he would be killed if he did not stop church services and vacate the village with the family,” Kumari said. “Since the family who was attending church regularly last year departed slowly from the faith, they have joined hands with upper-caste Hindus to try to forcefully evict us from the village.”

Painful Betrayal

Three families in the village in Arwal District had become Christian under the teaching of a pastor in Parsurampur village, and last year he had sent Pastor Das and his family to form a church in Jhikatia so the families wouldn’t have to travel to Parsurampur, Kumari said.

One of the families had dedicated the land for the construction of the modest church hall and the smaller room Das and his family used for living quarters.

“The construction was only partly done, but we came here because the Lord had called us, and we have been maintaining good relations with the few members who attend the prayer services,” Kumari said. “But the area is dominated by upper-caste Hindus, and they diverted the minds of the family who offered their land for church services.”

The pastor of the church in Parsurampur, Arun Kumar, said church members had registered the land in the name of a charitable society, not in his or Pastor Das’ names.

“Now that they have renounced their faith in Christ upon the instigation of the area upper-caste Hindus, they want the land back,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “It is very painful to watch a brother and his family – who were on my side supporting me and as strong pillars who came forward to dedicate a piece of land for the Lord’s work – drift away from their faith and desire to have what they gave to the Lord back.”

Along with the upper-caste Hindus, the formerly Christian family had issued threats that they would not allow Christian worship in the area, and that they would kill Pastor Das and his wife if the church continued meeting, Pastor Kumar said.

“As soon as I received information about the attack from Pastor Das on Sept. 14, I rushed to Jhikatia from Parshurampur, about six miles away,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “I too suffered injuries as the angry men turned on me, since they are well aware that I was the one who told the villagers that they should have a church in the area.”

Hindu extremists on Aug. 28 had attacked members of Pastor Kumar’s church in Parsurampur, leaving two Christian men with head wounds requiring 12 stitches each, breaking the hand of a Christian woman and injuring the backs of two other members, he said.

With the attack in Parsurampur fresh in his mind, Pastor Kumar did not hesitate to go to Jhikatia village, he said.

“By God’s grace, I reached them on time and was able to stand before the attackers to defend the pastor’s family, their newborn particularly,” he told Morning Star News. “God saved us that day.”

Legal Recourse

The Christians have submitted a complaint to police at the Kinjar police station naming the five leaders of the assault who oppose church services, Pastor Kumar said.

Personnel from legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) India ensured that police understood the legal ownership of the land and were aware of the Christians’ petition, he said.

“We were afraid that the police might lodge a counter-case assuming it as only a property issue,” Pastor Kumar said, “but God helped us through ADF, and the police assured us that they will investigate the matter fairly.”

The head of the Kinjar police station told Morning Star News that officers have registered a First Information Report.

“If they [Pastor Das and family] need security and they place a petition, we would provide it for them,” he said. “It appears to be a dispute about land between the parties. The investigation is underway.”

India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has been worse each year since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

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Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: Pexels/Pixabay

More than 200 leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are asking President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to commit to resettling more refugees in Fiscal Year 2021.

“As people of faith, we believe that we must honor the dignity of every human, regardless of national origin,” reads the letter to Trump and Pompeo. “We have a commitment to follow the teachings of Jesus and to uphold our nation’s tradition of protecting the persecuted.”

The letter was signed by 243 leaders working with the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, a faith-based group that helps immigrants.

The letter asks that refugee admissions increase to at least 95,000 in Fiscal Year 2021, which starts Oct. 1.

In 2020, Trump cut the admissions goal to 18,000, but as of Sept. 24, only 10,845 refugees have been resettled, according to LIRS.

“Our nation’s once pristine reputation as a place of refuge for the oppressed and persecuted of all faiths has been gravely damaged,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president & CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and a former refugee from Sri Lanka. “I question if my own family would be welcomed and embraced in America today were we fleeing the ethnic and religious persecution that drove us from our home.”

In many refugee resettlement cases, the federal government works with nonprofit groups to welcome immigrants.

According to a press release from LIRS, by the end of 2019, nearly 80 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their home and of those, 26 million were refugees.

“We have seen refugees work hard, become self-sufficient and become cherished friends, family and neighbors who enrich our lives and strengthen communities and the fabric of our nation,” it concludes. “We hope you will support refugees now and in the future by resettling at least 95,000 refugees in fiscal year 2021. To restrict thousands of people from seeking safety would be to forsake our nation’s values of compassion and welcome.”

Photo courtesy: Pixabay

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RNS) — Danny Chambers, a Nashville-based worship leader and pastor who was well known in charismatic Christian circles, has died.

Chambers’ death was announced by his wife, Jillian Chambers, on Instagram Wednesday (Sept. 23).

“May the Rain of Your presence fall as we mourn the passing of my best friend, Danny Chambers,” she wrote. “I know many of you have heard that he is now in the arms of Jesus. The earth will feel a great void but Heaven is rejoicing.”

Chambers, known for his worship songs “Let the Rain of Your Presence” and “I Will Bow Down and Worship,” was the longtime pastor of Oasis Church in Nashville, now known as Citipointe Church, Nashville.

“As you can imagine, the past 24 hours have been difficult for all of us here on staff as we are all mourning the passing, as many are, of our former pastor, Danny Chambers. Our hearts go out to the Chambers family. Please keep them in your prayers,” a notice on the church’s Facebook page stated.

News of Chamber’s death spread on social media.

“Very sorry to hear that Danny Chambers passed away today in Nashville,” wrote Lee Grady, former editor of Charisma magazine, on Twitter. “He was a gifted worship artist who made some amazing albums. His recording of ‘All Consuming Fire’ was my favorite. Pray for his wife and family.”

Christian musician Russ Taff also mourned his friend on Twitter.

“I lost a friend, a brother, and a pastor today,” he wrote. “Godspeed, Danny Chambers — our hearts are shattered. We loved you so.”

No cause of death was immediately known, according to the Tennessean newspaper.


Article originally published by Religion News Service. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: Jillian Chambers Facebook