Catholic and Protestant leaders from India and abroad have resolved to share resources and cooperate in evangelization work in a bid to foster ecumenism and counter anti-Christian harassment in the country. Some 3,600 leaders from India and another 260 from abroad on Sunday concluded a 4-day meeting in Damoh, a town in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state, ahead of the worldwide Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Jan. 18-25. The annual gathering, 19th in a series, was jointly organized by a collection of groups called the International Conference on Missions and Global Gathering. It assumes significance in the background of increasing anti-Christian incidents in the country from Hindu nationalist groups. Over the last several years Christian leaders across India have been reporting of their churches being attacked, pastors beaten up and Christian villages threatened with social boycott to force them to abandon their faith.
Ajai Lall, president of the India Christian Mission, and chief organizer of the program said delegates have agreed to "share our resources and talents" and "it will not only multiply but also fetch greater good to the suffering humanity" and to create a just society to exploitation.
Church leaders speaking in a special session agreed to forge greater unity among churches in Asia by bridging their differences and together facing challenges, he said. Anti-Christian incidents have increased ever since the pro-Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in New Delhi two years ago as extremist Hindu groups took the victory as a mandate to press for a Hindu-only India. The BJP is already in power in several states, and it work toward gaining power in five more states that go to polls later this year.
India has some 27 million Christians and 17 million of them Catholics. Majority of the other 10 million are Protestant Christians but many Pentecostal groups, especially in the villages, compete with each other to claim Christians. Aggressive evangelization methods that include preaching in the streets without respecting local religions and culture and engaging in "sheep stealing" Christians from other churches have led to violence and rivalry in the past, pastors said. (Source: UCAN)