Christians in India continue to face significant and severe persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ. The Indian culture, which mostly follows the Hindu religion, views conversion to another faith as traitorous and often results in harsh punishments, including arrest, an attack, or even death.
Open Doors USA and Pastor Richard Kannwischer of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church recently shared the story of a family who converted to Christianity from a small village in India in the 19th century.
The community was extremely angry when they learned of the family’s conversion. “Everybody became so upset that an angry mob gathered and shoved them into the public square,” said Kannwischer.
The father of the family was confronted by their village chief, and was told that his entire family would surely die should they not recant their faith.
This news left the man dumbstruck, Kannwischer says. “The only thing that came to mind for him were the words of the song that he himself had composed when he had first surrendered his life to God.”
The man began to sing “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back,” Kannwischer says. “With that, his children were killed.”
The man was given another chance to save his wife, but he continued to sing, and she too was killed. Then, the man was given one last opportunity to save himself. But still, he sang.
“Even though the man and his family died on that day, something remarkable happened. A seed was planted in the heart of that village chief.”
Eventually, the chief called the community together in the same square and renounced his own faith to declare himself a Christian.
Celebrations took place at this announcement, and commitments to Christ began to spread across the entire region, all because of a demonstration of real faith.
“They knew the true character of God because of a family who believed and sacrificed even under the penalty of death.”
An Indian missionary took the words and composed a hymn, which was then edited in 1959 and included in the Assembly Songbook.
In the video below, Pastor Richard Kannwischer of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, tells the story of the family in India who gave up everything for the gospel—refusing to deny Jesus in the face of their attackers to the very end. And, due to their faithfulness, God changed an entire community for the Kingdom.
Listen to this story and let it sink in deep. Let it remind you that nothing is more precious than Jesus. And let it spur you on to a more passionate, courageous and believing faith.
Believers in India—number 10 on the 2019 World Watch List—are often shunned, unjustly arrested, attacked—even killed—because they choose to follow Jesus and not Hinduism or the local religion. Our Indian family needs the prayers of the global church to stand strong in the midst of persecution—and to remain a light for Christ in the world’s second-most populated country.