Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Join a day of prayer on 8 April for 26 threatened Indian pastors - Open Doors UK & Ireland
04 April 2022

Join a day of prayer on 8 April for 26 threatened Indian pastors

You are invited to join in a day of prayer on Friday, 8 April, for 26 Indian pastors who have been threatened by name. Pastor Yalam was recently murdered because of his faith and because he shared the gospel.

You can join a day of prayer for threatened Indian pastors on 8 April (image is illustrative)

Our church family in India is calling for a day of prayer for 26 pastors who’ve been threatened with violent attacks. These threats follow the murder of Yalam Shankar, an Indian pastor from Bijapur in Chhattisgarh, a state in central India. You’re invited to join Open Doors supporters across the UK and Ireland for a special day of prayer on Friday, 8 April.

Before he was killed, Pastor Yalam received many threats – including written ones, in the form of letters and pamphlets. They warned that he would face violence if he continued his Christian ministry in the area. He was found murdered beside his house on the evening of 17 March 2022.

Letters distributed near Pastor Yalam’s house

"We are in desperate need of prayers for Christian leaders living in these areas." Heena, local Open Doors partner

Locals witnessed people scattering these letters on Pastor Yalam’s road in January. Opposition to Christianity comes from various sources in India, and these letters were believed to be written by followers of local tribal deities. The letters demanded that people worship these deities, and urged everyone to oppose those who stood against the tribal gods and goddesses. Christian leaders like Pastor Yalam were singled out as needing to ‘preserve their culture’ – that is, worship these false gods – rather than telling people about Jesus.

“We do not know who exactly is behind Pastor Yalam’s killing,” says Heena*, a local Open Doors partner, “but we know for sure that we are in desperate need of prayers for Christian leaders living in these areas, so that they can continue to stay in their communities yet practise their faith.”

Pastor Yalam refused to stop his work in the community – and paid the cost for courageously following Christ. He knew that ‘neither death, nor life [… was] able to separate [him] from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:38-39).

Worshipping despite threats

There are 26 pastors whose names have been explicitly included in written threats – they are scared, but they aren’t backing down. A Christian leader from a nearby city says, “Right now, Christians in the area are so afraid, as they have also received threats. However, they are still gathering for worship.

"This is God’s work and we will not deny Him. Please pray for us that we do not get discouraged." Local Indian Christian

“They say, ‘It is difficult, but we know we will have to face these things, and we need to be ready for this. This is God’s work and we will not deny Him. Please pray for us that we do not get discouraged.’”

“Christian leaders are in the most vulnerable situation nowadays,” says Heena, who meets with and supported several pastors who’ve been viciously attacked. “The attacks against Christian leaders are increasing day by day. Attacks are common and, even if they don’t kill in all the cases, the injuries are serious and long-lasting. I recently met a Christian leader who has scars and injuries all over his body because of an attack by an anti-Christian group; he had a serious head and ear injury and he had lost his ability to hear properly after the attack.”

This region has seen many attacks against Christians in the past few years – including another pastor (not named on the list) being attacked later in March, and homes of Christians being destroyed. India is number 10 on the Open Doors World Watch List, and persecution of Christians is intensifying.

8 April: day of prayer

Police have not taken any meaningful action in relation to Pastor Yalam’s murder. Often, in India, Christians find that police are not interested in pursuing those who attack or kill believers – and sometimes the police even take the side of the persecutors.

Without any chance of justice through the law, it’s more important than ever that we join with our Indian brothers and sisters in praying.

You can answer the call of our Indian church family, and join in praying on Friday, 8 April. Below are some ways you can pray.

Please pray for

  • The 26 named pastors to be protected from harm. We can’t share their names for security reasons, but God knows them
  • All Christian leaders in India to receive God’s love and strength, and continue to be resilient in their faith and witness
  • Those who grieve for Pastor Yalam to know God’s comfort
  • The distributors of these leaflets to be convicted of their sins and turn to Jesus
  • Police and legal authorities to take meaningful action, and for justice against those who killed Pastor Yalam.

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