by Elizabeth Kendal *
INDIA: STORM CLOUDS GATHER OVER INDIAN CHURCH
Voting for India's 16th Lok Sabha (House of the People, parliament) will be held in nine phases between 7 April and 12 May. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - the political wing of the Hindutva forces (collectively known as the Sangh Parivar) - is poised for a landslide win. While the BJP lost the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections, it was not because Hindutva was in decline. Favoured to win in 2004, the BJP's narrow loss - only evident in the last phase of voting - was a complete surprise. Then in April-May 2009, the BJP lost narrowly yet again despite being expected to win. Clearly their belligerent rhetoric after the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack frightened many voters. Meanwhile, the Sangh Parivar's unchallenged activism has ensured Hindutva's advance, despite the BJP's losses. Sadly, the inept and corrupt Congress-led UPA government has failed to arrest or even address the spread of Hindutva, wasting two terms in office (ten years) as violent persecution of Christians has escalated and spread nationwide. The BJP's candidate for Prime Minister is Gujarat Chief Minister and Hindutva hardliner, Narendra Modi. One of India's most divisive and sectarian figures, Modi was Chief Minister (CM) of Gujarat in February 2002 when Hindutva forces incited a Hindu pogrom that left as many as 2000 Muslims dead. Modi was also Gujarat's CM in February 2006 when Hindutva forces propagated the slogan 'Hindu Jago, Christio Bhagao' (Arise Hindus, throw out the Christians) and set the stage for a pogrom against Christians in Dangs. Calling upon Hindus to kill Christians just as the Hindu god Ram killed the demon Ravana, the Hindutva ideologues aimed to deal a 'death blow' to Christian missionary activity in Dangs (see RLM Jan & Feb 2006). Praise God he answered the prayers of many and the deadly plot of the Hindutva protagonists failed. To hide his rabid sectarianism and to woo minorities, Modi is running on an anti-corruption, pro-economic development platform (see RLM, 2 Oct 2013). Enormously popular, Modi could well be India's new Prime Minister by mid-May. Should the BJP win power, it will doubtless move to have anti- conversion legislation at the federal level. Freedom of religion could be redefined along Hindu nationalist lines, so that anti-conversion laws can be fully enacted in accordance with a re-written or re-interpreted constitution. India's population includes over 70 million Christians (5.8 percent) or possibly as many as 100 million (9 percent) according to Operation World. Furthermore, India is the world's second largest missionary-sending nation, with some 83,000 Indian missionaries working cross-culturally, mostly in India. The Indian Church stands to be impacted profoundly by these elections.
* INDONESIA: ISLAMISTS NEED TO BE MARGINALIZED
Whilst the majority of Indonesians are tolerant and enjoy Indonesian pluralism and traditional cultures, fundamentalist Islam is spreading through the nation, just as it is globally. Although President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) could be described as a 'moderate' - i.e., a nominal Muslim who enjoys traditional Javanese culture - he has been willing to broker quid pro quo deals with Arabized Islamists whenever he has needed their endorsement or vote. Consequently, though SBY has impressed international mainstream media and foreign diplomats with his liberal tolerant rhetoric, intolerant fundamentalist Islam has advanced not simply under his watch, but with his complicity. Under the present government, numerous Sharia-inspired laws have been passed and belligerent Islamists have been permitted to defy the Supreme Court and persecute Christians with impunity. [The RLPB blog has links to reports.] Voting for the next parliament will take place on 9 April, followed by a presidential election in July.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL -
* awaken Indians to the threat and ugliness of Hindutva; may the BJP not win the majority it seeks.
* grant the Church in India great wisdom, peace, courage and grace, that the Gospel will continue to go forth, breaking through the darkness and blessed with great effectual power from the Holy Spirit. 'How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news . . . ' (Isaiah 52:7 NIV)
* awaken Indonesians to the threat of Islamist influence; may the winning party or coalition have a convincing victory, so that Islamists will be marginalized and Islamization wound back. * influence the Indonesian elections to produce a result that will help rather than harm the gravely threatened predominantly Christian Melanesians of Papua.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV)
UPDATE: DEATH FOR 'BLASPHEMER' IN PAKISTAN
On 9 March 2013 - a little over a year ago - as many as 7000 local Muslims attacked a Christian enclave in Lahore known as Joseph Colony after a local Muslim accused a Christian of blasphemy. The police advised the Christians to flee and then stood back as the rampaging Muslims looted and burnt some 160 homes, 18 businesses and two churches. (RLPB 201, 12 Mar 2013). To this day, none of the attackers has been convicted of looting or arson. However, on 27 March 2014, Sawan Masih (26) was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death despite the total absence of any material evidence. The ruling will be appealed in the Lahore High Court. Please pray that wickedness and injustice will be exposed and condemned.