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Increased violence against Christians in parts of India recently has Christian leaders calling for urgent prayer. In addition to increasing attacks against Christians, they say Christians are unjustly rotting away in jail on trumped up charges.

In Madhya Pradesh, there were unconfirmed reports indicating at least 18 instances of violence against Christians since Wednesday, January 25. The first attack was in Betul, where in Hindutva fundamentalists attacked and attempted to burn a Pentecostal church. Hindutva, which literally means "Hinduness," is a growing ideology that seeks a purely Hindu nation as its goal. "To be Indian is to be Hindu," this dogma declares.

The second attack took place in Banapura, located in District Hoshangabad. Unidentified men broke in the Friend's Church and set the church's gates on fire. The third attack was again at a Friend's Church, but this time in the town on Itarsi. An unidentified group attempted to vandalize the church, but they fled when an alarm went off. Additionally, an unidentified group attempted to burn a church in Mandla District, but local police thwarted them.

Christians in Madhya Pradesh have always suffered some amount of violence and social discrimination, but the coming of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the government led to a huge escalation of attacks on the community.

In recent weeks Hindu extremist organizations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS or Indian Volunteers Corp) have made headlines for organizing the controversial Shabri Kumbh or Hindu "reawakening" rally in Dangs district, Gujarat.

The organization's activities were originally social in nature, but the RSS soon progressed to a program of radical Hindu nationalism. The RSS formed a political wing, the BJP, which won federal elections in 1998 and gave virtual immunity to extremists who attacked Christians. The party lost elections in April 2004, but still governs in several states. The RSS, meanwhile, continues its aggressive campaign against Christian conversions.

"The Taliban used force to exert stringent control over the entire nation of Afghanistan," Gospel for Asia founder and president K.P. Yohannan said. "And that is exactly what is happening in India -- a radical minority is attempting to 'Hinduize' a nation of over one billion people."

Currently, 14 innocent Christians languish in Alirajpur prison without bail for the last two years. They are all accused of murdering Arjun Pal, one of the Hindutva brigades "martyrs." However, witnesses have said that many of the Christians were not even present at the scene at the time of the violence. Pal was accidentally shot by his own party people during the destruction of the mission school and the private property of Christians.

On Monday, February 27, high-profile Hindu Nationalist Party leaders, including Shivraj Chouhan from Madhya Pradesh, Vijaya Raje Scindia of Rajasthan and Narendra Modi will inaugurate the statue of Pal in Madhya Pradesh.

"I am requesting that you please multiply this prayer request so that on the 27th the demonic activity will be replaced with God's miraculous glory," a Christian leader in Madhya Pradesh said in an e-mail prayer appeal to WINDOW INTERNATIONAL NETWORK.

"The day these 14 are released from prison, I would surely feel I have accomplished my greatest goal on earth," she added. "Yes, only prayers would bring answers to our petitions and supplications for these victims, including the four other brothers and sisters, who are in Dhar jail."

Yohannan called upon Believers to fast and pray for the persecuted Church in India -- in order to see a breakthrough that will bring millions into the kingdom.

"Today, India is at a crossroads," he said, "and we as believers in Jesus have the opportunity to help make an impact on this nation that will last for eternity."

Samuel Thomas of Hopegivers International asked Christians everywhere to pray that revival would break out in India and that the enemies of the Gospel would be confounded.

"Please use your influence to prompt governments of other countries to say a word to our government leaders to provide protection for the orphan children in our homes, and for pastors and their families," he said. "We need justice for Christians in India."

"The believers in Christ in India are asking their brothers and sisters around the world to lift us up in prayer, as we face severe persecution," Thomas added. "We want to continue to brag about our Lord Jesus until our last breath. Pray, pray, pray, and pray more for the persecuted believers and leaders in India."
Our prayer...
- The demonic forces driving these attacks against Christians to be thwarted. Pray that the increased violence against Christians will subside.

- All Indian Christians who are in jail on false charges. Pray that God will sustain and strengthen them. Pray for justice and freedom, especially the 14 in Alirajpur prison.

- The salvation of members of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Pray that attempts by Hindu extremists to make India a Hindu nation will stop.

- The persecuted Christians and leaders affected by the recent violence to continue to fix their eyes on Jesus. Pray that God will uphold and sustain them and that they would find comfort and refuge in Him.

- Churches that have been targeted by Hindu extremists. Pray that God will give wisdom to those in positions of leadership as they seek to respond to these attacks. Pray also that God will give them grace to love their enemies. Pray that Christian churches will be safe places and not sites of vandalism or arson.

- Christians in India who are under pressure to renounce their faith to stand strong. Ask God to give them faith and hope in the midst of such great difficulties. India has jumped from No. 34 to No. 26 in the 2006 Open Doors World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer most for their faith. Pray that Christians will stay strong in the faith with the support of prayers and support from the West.

- The call for a nationwide anti-conversion law to fail, and that anti-conversion laws in some states would be repealed. Pray that God will give people across India freedom to come to know Him and to worship God openly. Pray also that anti-Christian rallies will not inflame communities.

- Christians in the media. Ask God to give them integrity as they report unfolding events. Pray that God will help them to exercise great wisdom and sensitivity in the way in which they report.

- God to protect the innocent tribal people who have been faithfully following Christ, and for the missionaries who are ministering among them, bringing them God's hope for a new life that has been denied by the Hindus for centuries.

- The House Church to grow in India. Pray that God will give House Church leaders wisdom, knowledge and understanding in shepherding their flocks. Pray for God's divine protection.

Sources: Assist News Service, Compass Direct, Gospel for Asia, Hopegivers International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors USA.