A US pastor has finally returned home and reunited with his family after being imprisoned in India for over seven months on false charges.
Bryan Nerren of International House of Prayer Ministries was stuck in the country after his passport was taken away and a travel ban placed on him. He traveled to India in early October for a missionary conference but was stopped in New Delhi for the money he was carrying to support the trip and other ministers.
Nerren, who is at the helm of an international non-profit ministry called Asian Children’s Education Fellowship, has been training Sunday school teachers in India and Nepal for the last 17 years.
According to The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), a Christian advocacy non-profit law group which has been representing Nerren, noted that the pastor was detained and arrested upon his arrival at the airport in Bagdogra, India for allegedly “evading a duty on funds.” Nerren was carrying a sum of money that he intended to use to cover the expenses of his trip and the conference, but according to the ACLJ, the sum was not enough to make transporting it a crime.
The law group reports that Nerren had declared the funds while going through customs in New Delhi. New Delhi officials, however, failed to provide the pastor with the documentation needed so that he could travel domestically.
Additionally, customs officers reportedly asked Nerren if he was a Christian and if the funds were going to be used towards Christian efforts.
Nerren was initially let go, but after deplaning his flight to Bagdogra, Nerren was arrested. Nerren was held until last Friday when all of the charges were officially dropped.
After seven months, the Shelbyville pastor was reunited with his family upon his arrival at the Nashville International Airport Tuesday evening.
Throughout the pastor’s detainment, Nerren garnered the support of U.S. Congress members, the State Department, the U.S. Embassy and the National Security Council.
More than 200,000 ACLJ members also signed a petition urging for Nerren to be released and allowed to return home.
Despite his lengthy detainment, Nerren plans on continuing his ministerial work in India.
“They’ve inspired me to do stuff I wasn’t planning on doing, I will be helping supporting churches and the children. That’s all we’ve ever done ministry-wise, we help poor children. It will triple, we will do more than we’ve ever done before in the places they wanted to run me out and stop me from doing,” said Nerren, Christian Headlines reports.
India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has worsened since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.
Open Doors states that “the primary force for persecution in India is Hindu nationalism, which advocates for the belief that India belongs to Hindus and people of other faiths should find somewhere else to live, work and worship.”