Despite active opposition by radical Hindu groups in recent months, native missionaries in a rural area of India report that hundreds of tribal people have come to the Lord this summer.
"These missionaries work in an area of central India where the population is 95% tribal," reported Virginia-based Christian Aid. "When they first entered the area, they encountered the obstacles of different languages, habits and customs. After months of hard work, missionaries began to see the fruits of their labor as more and more tribal people turned from ancestral gods to Christ."
The missionary agency said the growing number of Christians did not escape the notice of Hindu extremists. In January of this year, extremists launched an active opposition to Christianity, the agency reported. Aided by police, they made life difficult for tribal people and missionaries. Believers were beaten and publicly humiliated. Homes and church buildings were burned. Some Christians were chased from their villages with threats on their lives.
Yet, persecution did not stop believers from meeting together, as they continued to gather in secret underground meetings. As a safety precaution, Bibles and gospel literature were also kept out of sight. "For four months, from January until early this summer, missionaries were not able to conduct their usual evangelistic meetings or public baptisms," Christian Aid reported.
Yet Christians who held fast believed that "the door which was opened by God cannot be shut by any man," in the words of one ministry leader.
In July, the believers experienced some relief from their persecutors. Around 500 believers were able to gather publicly for a baptism service. One hundred ninety-nine converts lined the shores of a lake and were baptized. The very next day, native missionaries baptized 173 new believers in yet another village.
Christian Aid reports that the threat posed by Hindu radicals continues, yet Christians persist in spreading the gospel to isolated tribal groups, showing them "light in the darkness of idol worship."