What coronavirus relief looks like for Indian Christians

April 3, 2020 by Christopher Summers in Persecution updates

Like many other countries, India has gone into lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic. While there are “only” 2,500 confirmed cases of infected people in a country with more than a billion people, the impact of the measures is immense. Many persecuted Christians have lost their income and ask for urgent help. Reaching them is harder than ever, but Open Doors’ partners are doing what they can to provide the most basic of needs: food.

Bringing relief to the church in India

Dhiraj* is a dedicated pastor. He and his small family live in the slums of a big city in India. He sent us a message: “Our church is situated in the same slums we live. The church members are very poor, but each week they give an offering. This is my only salary: 200-500 rupees a week (roughly $2.50-$6.50). But now we are in lockdown and there are no more offerings. I can go nowhere and I cannot find other work. I’m turning to you for help.”

Dhiraj is just one Indian Christian with these needs. There are thousands of them. Perhaps millions. All of them live in a country that becomes increasingly hostile to the gospel. The coronavirus outbreak threatens their lives.

Open Doors partner Rahul* says, “The congregations are really poor. Most church members are daily wage laborers and no work for the day means no food for the day. The pastors’ families are suffering the most. We have a plan to reach out to those who are truly starving. Can Open Doors please help?”

Shalom*, another partner, called us to tell the heartbreaking story of Jai*. “Last time we spoke, everything was okay,” Shalom says. “Now Jai told me how the lockdown is affecting him and other pastors. They can’t go to work, and they can’t visit their church members. They have identified at least 20 to 30 pastors who are starving because of the lockdown.”

Help persecuted Christians in the coronavirus crisis!

For Christians in India and around the world who are already persecuted for their faith, the global pandemic is making life even more difficult. They have less access to healthcare, medicines and community services. Open Doors is committed to standing with the least of these—to ensure that the vulnerable have what they need too. God’s people need our help urgently—will you give today?

Help now

Tara* and her husband serve the Lord in a poor area in India and are struggling as well. “We don’t have enough to feed our children,” she says. “I can’t watch them starve and we cannot go to our parents. Please, kindly do something to support the Body of Christ.”

Church worker Paras gets a lot of calls from his church members—most are day laborers. “In this situation ,when the country is under lockdown they have been calling us and requesting for help,” Paras says. “We are able to help them spiritually by sending them messages and God’s Word through social media like WhatsApp and Facebook. But we are not able fulfill their physical needs. May we request your organization to help with providing food to the poor people in the church?”

Open Doors’ founder Brother Andrew started by visiting persecuted Christians in eastern Europe and giving the Bible to them. Later, our ministry added training, but soon we discovered that giving Bibles and training is only useful once people’s most basic needs are met.

For this reason, an important pillar of our work in countries like India is to support the persecuted church with urgent aid and relief. In cooperation with our partners, we are trying to reach persecuted Christians in India who are starving because of these measures against coronavirus.

This is important now, but also for the future. “Right now, there’s not much interaction between people,” says a local Open Doors partner, Heena*. “From experience, we know that Hindu extremists may try to bribe poor Christians to become Hindus. Then—so they promise—their financial problems will be over. The current crisis makes the Indian church more vulnerable to these tactics.”

Despite the lockdown, Open Doors partners are able to reach some areas to distribute food. Arun* and his wife recently had a baby. His extended family that he takes care of consists of 12 people. “Because of the lockdown, I can’t earn any money,” he says. “I’m also involved in part-time ministry, which I can’t do either now. We were facing starvation. But suddenly you brought us food! Now we can survive for at least one month.”

A local Open Doors partner stands with emergency aid that’s being brought to Indian Christians.

A local Open Doors partner stands with emergency aid that’s being brought to Indian Christians.

Aryan*, a minister who visits small villages, received support as well. “My only source of income is the offering, which I used to get from Sunday service and house visits,” he says. “My income is just hand to mouth. I couldn’t save money for my future. Due to the lockdown in our area. I couldn’t go out to meet believers. Last week I fell sick and for this reason I spent all the money that I had. Then the lockdown came and darkness descended on me. How could I feed my family? Then your organization came with groceries and other aid. Now we have enough for at least one month.”

Suraj*, a day laborer, had lost all hope after the anti-virus measures came into effect. “I felt helpless and really prayed hard to God,” Suraj says. “I asked Him if he could open the door so that we could get food to survive. Suddenly my pastor prayed and said that an organization had dropped off groceries and other daily necessities for families hit by this crisis. Thank you so much! I was so happy to receive this help!”

Will you please pray and give for persecuted Christians, especially now in this time of increasing need? Persecution doesn’t stop because of a virus epidemic. In fact, the pressure on our persecuted brothers and sisters in many regions in the world is mounting. This crisis can hurt the Church—or make it stronger. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Gal. 6:9-10) 

You can give a gift now by clicking here. 

* All names changed for security reasons.

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