God has moved powerfully to save persecuted believers in India after years of petition by the church.
Evangelist and preacher Billy Graham stated, “Prayer is one of our greatest privileges as God’s children, and even if God doesn’t seem to answer your prayers at first, don’t stop praying. God loves you, and no prayer goes unanswered.”
That statement is easy enough to espouse in theory. Intellectually, most mature Christians will happily agree that God’s silence shouldn’t discourage us.
The blithe response is “Just keep praying.”
After years of no answer or seeming almost answers that don’t turn out, though, our faith in the power of prayer can be severely tested. The belief that no prayer goes unanswered can waver terribly when we’re suffering and nothing seems forthcoming from heaven. Jesus promises, though, that our persistence is valuable.
In this case, believers who have been praying for 11 years have seen God move, miraculously and grandly.
Why the 11-year wait? We may not ever know, but we can celebrate with the knowledge that whatever God was and is doing, he’s good and he has the best plans in store.
Justice Long Awaited
Believers in Central Asia, particularly India, have been facing increasing persecution over the last couple years. Recently, though, our partners shared some encouraging news with us.
Last November, we asked everyone to pray for our brothers and sisters over in India. Seven believers from a church in the area where our partners work had been arrested on false charges of murder.
There was no actual evidence of this crime, but the Hindu officials, judges and police didn’t want to let these Christians go. The courts wavered and left the men in prison for years. Two of the men had been released when we wrote last fall, but five were still being held.
We just received a follow-up report.
India's Supreme Court has finally released the five men still imprisoned. Even though they have been suffering for their faith over the course of 11 years, it seems highly unlikely they will have to go back to the courts thanks to the persistent lack of evidence.
The joy of their families has been tremendous. This trial has been an exhausting rollercoaster of hopes raised and then dashed. About five years ago, just when their lawyers thought the men were going to be released, the judge caved to political pressure and withdrew the statement of their innocence. Instead, he gave them life sentences.
Prayers for release and justice, though, were answered this year.
The Next Steps Ahead
World Challenge partners met with each man to pray with them and offer encouragement. Most of them are still recovering from the trauma of their experience. Simple acts like going to work are now fraught with fears of another sudden arrest or worry about being accused of crimes by their neighbors.
Obviously, the men’s old jobs are gone, long since given to others. Major changes have taken place in their families’ lives over the past decade. For some, trying to rebuild a normal life again feels nearly impossible.
To make matters worse, many Hindus believe social media and newspaper announcements stating “The men who killed an innocent are now out of jail.”
These men need the Lord's protection and healing.
Will you join us in praising God for answered prayer but also continuing to pray for these men, the church and our partners on the ground in India?