By Andrew Wood
Ajai Lall, a well-known and respected Christian leader in India and the United States, requests prayers for the difficult situation he and other Christian leaders are facing in India.
Lall, an Indian national, was educated at Mid-Atlantic Christian University, Dallas Christian College, and Cincinnati Christian University as well as the University of Sagar, India. Since 1982 he has worked in India starting a 140-bed hospital, a nursing college, and a publishing house, as well as establishing churches, Bible colleges, and a children’s ministry to serve the Christian community.
On Aug. 15, 2022, Lall and other Christian leaders were singled out for special honor by state and local government authorities in India for the vital social services they provided during the COVID-19 pandemic, including operating a lifesaving oxygen-generating plant.
This well-publicized event drew the attention of Hindu nationalists, who have since then made allegations in the press against Lall and the organizations he serves; these critics have used intimidation tactics and filed complaints with law enforcement and government agencies. Lall and affiliated Christian leaders have been accused of illegal land sales, forced conversions to Christianity, paid conversions, and extortion of money from people wanting to leave the church. As a result, their work has been interrupted by multiple audits and interrogations from law enforcement and government officials, leaving them and their families on edge waiting for the outcome of legal and extra-legal activities directed against them.
Persecution of the Lalls is part of a larger pattern in India the international press has been reporting since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rose to power in 2014. Under its policy of “Hindutva” (or “Hinduization”), Christian humanitarian organizations and ministries have faced increasing scrutiny and harassment by the government. Militant individuals and extremist groups have taken this as a tacit green light to engage in harassment and even violence against followers of other religions. Many nongovernmental organizations that had provided vital care to the vast numbers of impoverished people have been left with little choice but to shut down operations and leave the country.
In a message to supporters, Lall said, “We are navigating the situation carefully and believe advocacy from our friends on behalf of the good work being done here could help put positive pressure on those who are trying to cause harm.”
Lall also asked for prayer in these areas:
- spiritual and emotional strength to endure persecution
- favorable relationships with influential local authorities
- discernment, guidance, and wisdom to respond appropriately
- safety for Christian families, especially innocent children
- that God’s work will continue to thrive and grow despite persecution
Supporters in India and other countries may also write to their own elected leaders. Ask them to encourage the Indian government to take steps to safeguard the rights and freedoms of Christians and other religious minorities.
Andrew Wood, a former missionary to Ukraine and former professor at Nebraska Christian College, is a freelance writer.