If you haven’t heard the name Narendra Modi before, consider this: he governs over a sixth of the world’s population, and ranks fifteenth on the Forbes World’s Most Powerful People List. As the prime minister of India, he is a political heavyweight, and his decisions directly impact 1.27 billion people – roughly four times the population of the United States. Since his election in May 2014, Modi has faced increasing scrutiny for the growing persecution of Christians, Muslims and other minorities under his watch. According to World Watch Monitor, two dozen Christian and Muslim groups, along with secular activists and political leaders, staged a recent protest, marking 300 days since Modi and his political party, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party – Indian People’s Party) took office. This is a man to keep your eyes on.
The BJP is a Hindu nationalist party, meaning that its agenda is to create a unified identity for India that is defined by Hinduism, in both religion and culture. In order to create a distinctly Hindu India, Hindu nationalist leaders often use rhetoric that paints the non-Hindu minority as less-than-Indian. The BJP has ties with historically militant Hindu nationalist groups, and minority leaders and activists claim that Modi and the BJP are fueling anti-minority sentiment and violence. Protesters last week displayed banners citing 168 counts of violence against Christians, in addition to 222 examples of “hate speech and media campaigns” from Hindu fundamentalist organizations, all since Modi took office last May. It is thought that there are even higher rates of violence towards Muslims, who have long been considered a threat to the Hindu nationalist ideology, although the exact numbers are uncertain.
Heavenly Father, we praise You for the fact that You are sovereign over all of India, even using what men intend for evil to accomplish Your good purposes. We humbly ask that You would be with Your children in this nation as they suffer hatred, violence and persecution for the sake of Christ. We pray that You would encourage them, granting them Your peace that surpasses all understanding. Remind them that the trials they now face are being used for Your glory and their good. Grant them steadfastness in suffering, boldness under pressure and love in the face of hatred. Let them be living examples of Jesus Christ, their living Savior who is worth more to them than all the things of this world. Watch over them and keep them; be their refuge. Work in the hearts of Narendra Modi and the BJP; we pray that they too would come to know You. Help Your people to forgive their persecutors, not by their own strength but by the strength of Your Spirit, O God. We ask all of this in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.