Church flourishing amid persecution and COVID-19 lockdown - report

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Reports from the Mission Network News (MNN) suggest that churches in India have continued to flourish in the midst of persecution and even during the COVID-19 lockdown, with more people turning to Christ.

For two consecutive years, the World Watch List of Open Doors places India 10th on the list of nations where it is most risky to be a Christian. The statistics, however,  have revealed that the faithful are willing to face the risk of standing up for their faith.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people coming to Christ, and house churches are popping up all over the place because of that,” MNN reported.

In addition, MNN’s church planting partners in India are celebrating the fact that “During 2020 - the COVID year - they've planted more churches than all the 25 years of their ministry work there,” Reeves said.

According to him, even amid persecution, “God grows and strengthens his Church.”

One of the church planting partners discussed with Reeves how individuals wanted to start praying explicitly for unsaved individuals they know because they were unable to meet anyone during lockdown.

“Then, they decided to follow up those prayers by phone and WhatsApp. They estimate about 100,000 conversions during lockdown as a result of this approach. Similarly, with church-planting, they encouraged every church to [pray for] 10 specific villages or neighborhoods [with] no church. Then, as restrictions loosened slightly, they were able to get into these regions. They estimate that churches adopted about 50,000 villages during lockdown, and 25% now have an ‘opening’ for the Gospel — some believers, a small house church, etc.,” the church planting partner explained.

Reeves shared that some of his friends in India were killed, and others were “thrown in prison [or] persecuted in various ways,” for their efforts to build God’s kingdom. But he believes such risks won’t stop the church from moving forward.

Comparing the present-day challenges of Christians in the country to first-century churches, Reeves said, “This context looks a lot like the first century Church. These folks keep pressing ahead, just like the early Church [kept] pressing on amid persecution.”

“Pray for them – [for] courage to keep pressing ahead; that God will protect them [and] they’ll have the tools and resources they need,” Reeves added.