It has become yet another heralding of “the most wonderful time of the year.” Along with the temporary inclusion of Bing Crosby and Burl Ives into light rock radio formats, holiday sales, and cheerful family photographs wishing “Season’s Greetings” from the mailbox, every December I have come to expect stories of the ACLU’s persecution of the Christian part of Christmas. So effective has the secular left’s legal onslaught been that now the mere whisper of a threat is enough to pull down the Christmas trees in Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport. And elementary school principles no longer wait for the stray Wiccan parent to complain before they scurry around banning red and green construction paper from decoration activities and “Away in a Manger” from Christmas pageant programs.
So, like clockwork, with the arrival of colder weather also arrives my wounded sense of injustice as one of the majority who worships the Jesus the city of Chicago deemed unfit to portray on film. This year, however, while the stories of the ACLU’s grinchiness remain as ridiculous as ever, I’m having a little trouble mustering up my traditional holiday outrage—and not just because the clerks at Wal-Mart have resumed wishing me “Feliz Navidad” (I live in a Southwestern city.) After a close encounter with believers who daily live Christ’s prediction, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also,” I can’t help but blush a bit at my previous, very vocal indignation.
For almost two-weeks in October, the organization Gospel for Asia (GFA) hosted a small collection of journalists for an informational tour of India . With 54 Bible colleges, 400 Bridge of Hope centers (elementary-level programs for children of Dalits, India’s lowest caste), a radio ministry broadcasting in 102 languages, and a network of over 16,000 native missionaries throughout the country, GFA is in a unique position to provide insight on the state of the Church in Asia.
The common challenge they say all workers in Indian ministry face is violent opposition. These are but a few reports out of the country from the last month alone:
¨ On November 14, villagers in the northeast state of Assam , India forced nine families from their homes for converting to Christianity.
¨ On November 17, students of a GFA Bible School were beaten and threatened with being burned alive by a mob on a road in Uttar Pradesh. All their Gospel literature was burned.
Simon John, a GFA regional director, acknowledges that such incidents are common throughout the Northern region.
Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All
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