Officials Stop Worship in a Christian Family's Home in Madhya Pradesh

Published 04 December 2017  |  
The Christian Post
A protester holds a placard during a rally by hundreds of Christians against recent attacks on churches nationwide, in Mumbai, February 9, 2015.

A Christian family in Madhya Pradesh has been warned by officials to stop worship in their home or "stringent action will be taken against" them.

Mahendra Nagdeve, his friends and relatives would meet at his house to worship Christ until he received a notice from city officials early November.

"With effect from the moment you receive this notice, you must not conduct any Christian congregational activity," the notice read, translated from the Hindi.

"If you continue any Christian activities despite receiving the notice, stringent action will be taken against you," it read.

Nagdeve, the 45-year-old father of three told Morning Star News that no official from the Nagar Palika Balaghat municipality had visited his house at the Lanji area of Balaghat District to check if the worship at his house was of any problem.

The Nov. 8 notice came as a shock.

"No officials visited my house to check if it is a house or church," he said.

"I have been paying house tax, electricity and water bills promptly. Unless for the purpose of issuing the bills and collecting any payments, the municipal employees had never contacted me, they never had an objection," he added.

Nagdeve, who gave up idol worship 13 years ago, said he and his family worship Jesus Christ in his home.

He wrote back to the officials saying that the place was his own house.

"I immediately submitted a response to the municipal officials stating it is my own house where I live with my family, and I had been praying peacefully in this house for 13 years now," he said.

He said his house was not subject to church building, but his family studies the Bible and prays together in their home as anyone else does.

He also mentioned that he set aside a prayer room within his home just like any Hindu would make a room for pooja in his house.

"We constructed this house after taking prior permission from the municipal authorities in 2005," said Nagdeve.

"Our journey in faith continued, and my wife uses the prayer hall space to pray with women as a sisters meeting, and some families also gather with us to study the Bible, but I am not professionally a pastor," he added.

The chief officer of the Balaghat municipal council, Chandra Kisore Bawre, said he was compelled by Hindu nationalists to give notice to Nagdeve.

"It was under the pressure by some people," he said. "I issued the notice, but I did not take any action as yet. I will look into the matter soon," said Bawre.

However, the official himself acknowledged that anyone can pray together with their family and friends in their own home.

Bawre said people in India are free to practice any religion.

Nagdeve's attorney, Anil Maglani, said the authorities have interfered in the personal life of a citizen.

"We issued a notice to the municipal officials saying they are exploiting the religious beliefs of Nagdeve," said Maglani.

"What's happening in his house, and which God he prays to inside the house, and whom he is praying to is totally personal, and no authority should intervene in this matter," Maglani added.

The attorney said the matter will be taken to court if necessary.

Nagdeve has not met with friends and relatives for Bible study or worship since receiving the notice.

"There is strength in fellowship and meeting together of believers to pray and worship the Lord," he said.

Now, "in my own house, I am hiding and praying privately. Please pray for us," he added.

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