Beloved Hymn Birthed Out of Persecution in India Is More Relevant in 2020 Than Ever
See the Story Behind the Song and Its Special Meaning to Believers in India
"Christian life is a life of risk. Even if you don't live in a country with fanatics," said a pastor and first responder who risks his life serving persecuted Christians in India. (Open Doors). He continued, "The hymn I Have Decided to Follow Jesus ...is very meaningful to Christians in India."
“One of the Saddest Times for the Persecuted Church in India”That’s how Persecution Relief described the first 6 months of 2020 in their half-yearly report. The report went on to say that when Covid-19 locked down the entire country: “Many thought that Christian Persecution would also get a much-needed break. Well, that’s what should have been the case…instead 6 Christians were murdered and 61 cases of hostility towards Christian women and children were chronicled including 5 cases of rape. 37 Christian families were boycotted and excommunicated, losing everything from house to inheritance. The level of viciousness has gone beyond comprehension and this is just the tip of the iceberg.” The report included the following description of one incident:
Christian Teen Martyred for Christ - Odisha
“Samaru Madkami, a 14-year-old Christian boy was hacked to death by religious fanatics because of his faith in Jesus Christ. This happened in a village named Kenduguda in Malkangiri, a district in the east-Indian state of Odisha. 3 years ago, he and his entire family gave their lives to Jesus Christ. Since then, the fanatics had been threatening to kill them and the rest of the Christians in the village. Even after the assassins were caught, they still boldly threatened to kill the other Christians in the village. “
That story touched some believers very personally. Pastor Saha was a professor who taught the brother of the victim's church leader. He forwarded this picture and prayer request to Pastor Saha:
“In spite of the pandemic, killings are still going on. Please pray.”
Pray for the House Church Movement in India
House churches in India suffer the most. Because they are isolated, they can be easily targeted.
Nevertheless, in the midst of persecution, the house church movement is growing more and faster. (Just as it did in the early days of the Church.)
When we hear or read about persecuted believers, our hearts yearn to ease their hardship but our heads often question, "What can I really do?" Fortunately, the Bible gives us answers that can make a real difference.
The most powerful is prayer.
The most powerful is prayer.
Persecuted Believers Always Ask for Prayer First
Five Ways to Support Persecuted Christians in Prayer
- Pray for the Right Words and the Boldness to Say Them “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” Ephesians 6:19-20
- Pray for Peace and Power Under Pressure “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
- Pray they Remember Who they Rely On “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:7-9
- Pray for Protection According to Jesus' Example “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me,” Jesus continued, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” Matthew 26:39
- Pray their Perspective and Actions Inspire their Persecutors to Faith in Jesus “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-31 (See Acts 16:25-34 for results that God inspires by this type of witness.)
Second, Stand With Them by Sharing Their Stories
What do we long for when we find ourselves in a storm - especially one not of our own making?
- Someone to stand with us in our struggles
- Someone to pray with and for us
- Someone to share our story so more prayer and unity can be generated
I can be that someone. You can be that someone. Isn't that what deciding to follow Jesus is all about?