07 July 2017

Christians imprisoned in India see fellow prisoners healed and coming to faith

Two Christians in India who were arrested, one on charges of converting people to Christianity, another on false charges of kidnap and assault, have spoken to the charity Open Doors about seeing God use them to bring healing and the love of Jesus to their fellow prisoners.

Sohan* and his pastor were arrested after they were accused of converting others to the Christian faith. There are anti-conversion laws in five of India's states, and they are frequently abused in order to harass and arrest minorities, including Christians.

Sohan says, "After I was hurled inside the cell, some of the inmates came to me and asked why I had been imprisoned. I told them that I was a Christian and was involved in sharing the gospel with others. I shared my testimony about how God had touched my life, and I explained that He could change their lives as well.

"I preached the gospel and prayed for an inmate who was sick. He was healed and believed in Christ instantly. My other cell mate was a person suffering from intense depression. He had been locked up in the prison on the charges of smuggling teak wood. He kept saying that he wanted to kill himself. I prayed for him and the suicidal thoughts left him. He also accepted Christ.

"The third person I met was a young man falsely accused of raping a woman. He also used to remain very upset and felt hopeless about his life. I shared the gospel with him, and he also accepted Christ inside the prison. This way I saw God's immense power and deliverance."

Open Doors partners were able to bail Sohan out of prison, and are helping him fight the case brought against him. He said, "I give thanks to your organisation for your help. You have strengthened the persecuted people and shown them you are standing with them.

"I suffered with many physical ailments and financial troubles before I became a Christian. Now I have freedom from all those problems and have a new life. This new life I will live only for Him, even if it includes persecution."

Photo of Sohan - larger file available on request:

Sohan

Subhash* became a Christian after his wife was healed when a pastor prayed for her. He said, "My pastor taught me that whenever I see someone who is sick, I should pray for them in faith and they will be healed. So I prayed for many sick people. They experienced healing. Seeing so many miracles, more people started coming to me, wanting me to pray for them."

Subhash soon started conducting meetings in and around his village to preach the gospel and pray for the sick people. "When we gathered for special meetings sometimes over 3,000 people turned up. I prayed for the sick and they were healed."

However, some people became jealous of the attention Subhash was receiving. He said, "There were even very rich people who used to come to my shabby hut in their big cars; they wanted me to pray for them. They would treat me with respect. People envied me in all of this. They were extremely irritated by the fact that I was preaching about Christ."

Because of this, various false charges have been brought against Subhash. He said, "The first one accuses me of tricking people, the second says I am a gangster with the capability of instigating a mob against the government. The other cases accuse me of kidnapping a girl, rendering her unconscious and torturing her.

"I was arrested. I angrily complained to the Lord in the prison, but the Lord reminded me the names of His servants who had been persecuted for the sake of the gospel. I prayed continuously and couldn't eat any food for five days. I would pray the entire night. The guards would hit me often and ask me to eat my food, but I could not eat.

"God used me inside the prison. I shared the gospel with twelve other inmates. Eleven of them believed, so I taught them how to pray. On the tenth day, the Lord gave me a vision that I had been released. I started telling all my inmates, 'You all will witness how the Lord will release me today.'

"They told me that the charges against me were so strong that I could not possibly be released for another three years. None of their doubts affected my faith. Instead, I told them to pray for their release also, and that God could release them too along with me.

"The Lord answered all my prayers, I was released and so were my eleven other inmates who believed. I am so grateful that through local people Open Doors provided timely support and bailed me out."

Open Doors local partners are continuing to support Subhash as he fights the false charges brought against him.

Photo of Subhash - larger file available on request:

Subhash

India is number 15 on the 2017 Open Doors World Watch List. Through local partners, Open Doors is supporting the church in India with emergency aid, advocacy support, holistic training, livelihood and community development, adult literacy programmes, and Bible distribution.

*names changed for security reasons

- ENDS -

For more information call the Open Doors press office on 01993 777377, 01993 777346 or 07484 000 441, or email Tania at taniac@opendoorsuk.org or Beth at bethf@opendoorsuk.org

Information on Open Doors - www.opendoorsuk.org

Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians in over 60 countries for over 60 years. Last year it raised approximately $70 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources. Open Doors UK & Ireland raised over £11 million.

Every year Open Doors publishes the World Watch List - a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. This is produced using detailed information provided by Open Doors co-workers in more than 60 countries, as well as independent experts. Data is gathered on five spheres of life - private, family, community, national and church life - plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence impacting Christians. Persecution in each country is recorded by Open Doors using a point system. Open Doors' research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom. The 2017 World Watch List accounts for the 12 months ending 31 October 2016.