The Bhojpuri movement is an ongoing Church Planting Movement in North India. Persecution is a common component of becoming a follower of Jesus in India. The following excerpt illustrates the commitment of new believers in the midst of persecution and how God chose to intervene in one case. It comes to us from the book Bhojpuri Breakthrough: A Movement that Keeps Multiplying by Victor John, an Indian movement leader who Beyond has had the privilege of working with and learning from. It is co-authored by Dave Coles, an encourager and resourcer of Church Planting Movements serving with Beyond.
In the 2001 persecution, one group of believers received threats that they would be forced to reconvert to Hinduism in a ceremony called *Ghar Wapsi. The people threatening them said, “On a particular day, we will come and re-convert you to Hinduism.” So on that day, five Hindu priests came from Varanasi. Their team set up a tent, prepared food, and readied cow urine for purification of the Christians reconverting back to Hinduism. They arranged everything and forced everyone to come out of their houses and attend the gathering.
As the ceremony began, the priests used a public-address (PA) system to make abusive speeches against Christians. Suddenly five women in the crowd became demon possessed. They were very violent. The priests threw water on them to try to get rid of the demons. But the women became even more violent. So the five priests got scared. They packed up their things, got in their car and returned to Varanasi.
The stage was set up, people had gathered, they had the tent and PA system, and the food was prepared. Everything was ready for a celebration. So the believers cast out the demons and the five women were delivered. Then the believers went up on the stage and used the PA system to preach the good news and share their testimonies. They said, “We followed Jesus because of our own free choice; not because of any inducements or any other reasons.” Many people came to faith through this and many others became sympathizers of the good news. Meanwhile, the newspapers printed a picture of the tent that had been set up and falsely reported that 200 people had been reconverted back to Hinduism!
Pray for ongoing movements in India and around the world. Pray for new believers as they commit to obey Jesus as Lord knowing they must be ready to face persecution.
Excerpted from Bhojpuri Breakthrough: A Movement that Keeps Multiplying by Victor John with Dave Coles (Monument, CO: WIGTake Resources, 2019)
1. According to Wikipedia, “Ghar Wapsi (Hindi, meaning “Home Coming”) is a series of religious conversion activities…to facilitate conversion of non-Hindus to Hinduism.” The article “India: ‘Ghar Wapsi’ [a Return Home] and the Not-so-veiled Threat of the Sangh” reports: “I have had occasion to document Ghar Wapsi events in various villages of Orissa . . . where the process has involved shaving off the head of men and women, their purification through a mixture of cow dung and cow urine, the chanting of mantras around the fire and, wherever possible, the burning of “alien” books such as the Bible….My own observations after field studies are of Ghar Wapsi as a movement that uses armed force and violence, certainly the threat of violence, towards a conversion of neo-Christians to Hinduism.”