Tribal Christians in the village of Chhaattisgarh in India were reportedly forced to convert back to Hinduism and fined for attending church, but they vowed to keep on serving Jesus despite the persecution they are facing.
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This year's Easter season had been very difficult for tribal Christians in Chhattisgarh because authorities had prohibited them from attending Easter Sunday service and those who disobeyed the order were fined $312. Still, the steep fine and the intimidation they faced because of their faith only served to strengthen their resolve to adhere to Christianity, the International Christian Concern reports.
Speaking to ICC in an interview, 40-year-ols Somari Komra and three other tribal Christians recalled how they were forced to stand in front during a gathering after Easter. They expected the assembly because five of the villagers had spied on them at church to be able to testify against them.
When questioned by the village leaders, Komra said none of them responded when he asked for help while he was suffering from physical and mental illnesses. He also testified how Jesus healed him and vowed to continue going to church even if it means he has to pay the fine and face social boycott.
Aside from imposing fines on the Christians who attended the Easter service, the village leaders also forced 15 Christian families to convert back to Hinduism. Those who objected were given further restrictions.
Shivaram Tekam, one of those who were forced to "reconvert" to Hinduism, said they had to offer gifts to the village god as a sign that they were returning to their old faith. Nevertheless, he later admitted that he will continue to keep his Christian faith.
"They can stop me from going to church but they cannot take Jesus from my heart," Tekam told a local pastor. "I will find ways and secretly come to church."
Indeed, Christians in India are being targeted more and more in politically and religiously motivated attacks. Based on a new report by the All India Christian Council, the number of attacks against Christians last year went up by almost 20 percent, Release International relays.
Some of the recorded attacks against Christians include forced conversion to Hinduism, disruption of church services, church bombings, burning of Christian schools and churches, and Bible burnings. A partner of Release International also noted that the persecution of Christians have escalated since the right-wing Hindu nationalist party BJP came to power in 2014.