7 Christian families forced from home as Hindu mob demands they renounce Christ

By Samuel Smith, CP Reporter

At least seven Christian families were forced to flee from their homes in the Jharkhand state of India this month after receiving threats and facing harassment from a Hindu mob, a global human rights advocacy group reports.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which advocates for religious freedom in over 20 countries, the seven families were forced from Masiya Mahuwatoli village on June 12 after a mob of about 200 villagers was riled up by the activist group Hindu Jagran Manch.

HJM is a group affiliated with the Vishva Hindu Parishad, a right-wing Hindu nationalist organization.

Sources told CSW that the displaced families include one pregnant woman and the families are reportedly seeking shelter in neighboring villages.

Three other families that were targeted reportedly forcefully converted to Hinduism, according to CSW.

The sources explained that the representatives of the HJM made a list of Christian families in the village who would be instructed to recant their faith or face potential consequences.

When the families refused the demands to convert, the villagers became violent.

The villagers reportedly threatened the Christian families with excommunication, a ban from using the village road, a ban from accessing community water as well as exclusion from all government rations. Additionally, about 12 kids were said to have been banned from going to the local school.

The sources added that the woman who was nine months pregnant, Anima Munda, was forced to walk about four miles to seek refuge in the neighboring village.

Two days later, sources told CSW that 22 HJM members entered a Christian home and dragged a Christian man and his mother out to the street. The two were later taken to a temple to renounce their faith.

“When they refused, their Bibles were burnt and the perpetrators carried out a conversion ceremony,” CSW explained in a press release. “On the same evening, members of HJM attacked the home of a man named Mangra Munda. His home was damaged as a result of attempts by the perpetrators to get in. Mangra told local sources they were going to kill him, but he was able to escape as it was dark.”

According to CSW, about 37 of the villages’ 47 Christians have escaped and now live in fear as some of their elderly parents are still in the village and in need of care.

On June 17, the Christian families reportedly filed a complaint with the local police department.

“CSW is deeply concerned for the wellbeing of the Christian families who have been forced to either convert or run for their lives,” CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a statement. “The freedom to choose a religion is a fundamental right afforded to every Indian citizen. We urge the local authorities to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes, to give full protection to these families, and to take the necessary steps to ensure that Christian families in Masiya Mahuwatoli village are able to live without fear and intimidation.”

The alleged assault on the Christian community in Masiya Mahuwatoli village is not the first time Christians have been forced out of their villages in Jharkhand state.

In 2018, International Christian Concern reported that 10 Christian families in the Pahli village of Latehar district of the state were forced to flee from their homes after local radicals demanded they renounce their faith.

India ranks as the 10th-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Door USA’s 2019 World Watch List.

“Since the current ruling party took power in 2014, attacks have increased, and Hindu radicals believe they can attack Christians with no consequences,” Open Doors USA, a leading Christian persecution watchdog active in dozens of countries, reported in a factsheet.

“As a result, Christians have been targeted by Hindu nationalist extremists more and more each year. The view of the nationalists is that to be Indian is to be Hindu, so any other faith — including Christianity — is considered non-Indian.”

On June 10th, a Christian evangelist was reportedly arrested in the Kerala state and accused of forcing conversions when he went to visit patients in a hospital. According to International Christian Concern, evangelist Boban Koshy was arrested for distributing religious pamphlets.

Although he was released, Koshy claims he is still being harassed and monitored by police. Koshy is among the many religious leaders in India that have been arrested on accusations of forcible conversion, which is a crime in certain Indian states.

In the Odisha state, a Christian school that educated over 250 tribal children was demolished in May after a Hindu radical group put pressure on local authorities to do so.

Last week, the U.S. State Department released its annual report on international religious freedom. The report, which analyzes the state of religious freedom in all countries, highlighted extremist Hindu mob attacks on religious minority communities that include Christians and Muslims.

The State Department report cited NGOs that have voiced concern that the Indian government “often protected perpetrators from prosecution.”

“As of November, there were 18 such attacks, and eight people killed during the year,” the State Department report explains.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

https://www.christianpost.com/news/7-christian-families-forced-from-home-as-hindu-mob-demands-they-renounce-christ.html

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I Marked People for Death. Jesus Marked Me for Life

How a gang leader found salvation in prison.
CASEY DIAZ| APRIL 22, 2019

I Marked People for Death. Jesus Marked Me for Life.

In prison, I was a shot caller.

Shot callers have an elevated rank in the gang world. They are the power-brokers who determine who gets hurt (or killed) and who doesn’t. They command respect.

I started down this path as a teenager in South-Central Los Angeles, as a leader in the Rockwood Street Locos. I led the way when we invaded homes, broke into cars, ransacked convenience stores, and stabbed rival gang members. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the streets were bloody. Most of the time, it was kill or be killed.

Eventually, the LAPD caught up with me. I was sentenced to nearly 13 years for second-degree murder—along with 52 counts of armed robbery. I actually breathed a sigh of relief that those were the only charges the cops could pin on me.

Life Was Very Cheap

While awaiting transfer to New Folsom State Prison—a Level IV maximum security prison near Sacramento, California—I was housed with 120 murderers and violent criminals inside Pitchess Detention Center, north of Los Angeles.

At Pitchess, we segregated ourselves: blacks aligning with blacks, whites with whites, and Latinos with Latinos. Several dudes from two long-established gangs, 18th Street and Florencia 13, approached me about becoming a shot caller there.

One of my responsibilities was the control and distribution of shanks, the crude homemade knives used for stabbing another prisoner. I slept with all 13 of them under my mattress. When a riot went off, I made sure the right people got shanks. There were many violent upheavals at Pitchess, and inmates got stabbed and killed all the time. All it took was a wrong look at the wrong person, and you were done for. Life was very cheap.

After about six months, I was transferred to New Folsom State Prison. When the bus dropped us off at the main building, I saw guards pacing on catwalks, their arms cradling Mini-14s—small, lightweight semi-automatic rifles.

The warden, standing next to a phalanx of serious-looking guards in riot gear, cleared his throat. “I want you to look at the sign to your right,” he said. My eyes alighted on a white sign with red lettering that read, “No Warning Shots Fired.” “In case of a riot,” the warden continued, “we will not be aiming at your feet, we will not be aiming at your legs, and we will not be aiming at your torso. We will be aiming directly at your head to kill you.”

When the warden was gone, a guard approached me with a manila file in hand. “Diaz, follow me,” he ordered. I was led inside the prison to an interview room, where the guard introduced himself as a gang coordinator. “Listen closely, Diaz,” he said. “We know that you’re a banger and a shot caller, so we’re putting you in solitary.”

I would be cooped up in an eight-by-ten-foot windowless box, with all my meals slipped in through a slot in the steel door (or “gate”). Social interactions with other inmates (and guards) would be nearly nonexistent.

The only source of illumination in my cell was a heavy Plexiglas light that couldn’t be turned off, which made it difficult to get any sleep. And without a clock or wristwatch to consult, I had trouble distinguishing whether it was day or night. There was nothing to do—no TV, no radio, no books. Only the meals broke the monotony.

I had been told by prisoners in Pitchess that if you’re not strong-willed, then solitary confinement could absolutely break you. There were times when I wondered if I would keep my sanity.

‘Jesus Is Going to Use You’

After about a year at New Folsom, I heard the guards come by my cell with an announcement: “Protestant service. Any inmate wanting to go, stand by your gate.”

I had heard the same announcement for Catholics. Religion wasn’t something I was interested in. I knew next to nothing about Jesus, only that he was the one on all those crucifixes.

One time I was lying on my bed, listening to the voices outside. I heard an older woman say, “Is there someone in that cell?” She sounded Southern and spoke with a syrupy drawl. “Yes, ma’am,” the guard said, “but you don’t want to deal with Diaz. You’re wasting your time.”

“Well,” she answered, “Jesus came for him, too.”

She approached the cell: “Young man, can I speak with you?” Looking through the open slot in my gate, I couldn’t see anything except for the guard’s boots and a pair of spindly legs.

“How are you doing?” she asked. “I couldn’t be better,” came my sarcastic reply. “Young man,” she said, “I’m going to pray for you. But there’s something else I want to tell you: Jesus is going to use you.”

By now, I was certain she was crazy. Couldn’t she see I was locked away in solitary confinement? “I don’t think that’s going to happen,” I said. But she persisted: “Young man, every time I’m here, I’m going to come by and remind you that Jesus is going to use you.”

A year or so later, I was lying down in my cell, daydreaming, when I turned toward the wall opposite my bed. On that wall, something strange was happening. A movie was playing, a movie about my life. I saw myself as a young child, walking the old neighborhood at 9th and Kenmore. I witnessed incidents from my early days with the gang—everything in picture-perfect detail.

Then I saw a bearded man with long hair carrying a cross. As he trudged along, a mob of angry people shouted at him. When he arrived on top of a knoll, rough-looking men nailed his hands and feet to the wooden beams and raised the cross so it stood between two other men on crosses.

What got to me most was when this man looked at me and said, “Darwin, I’m doing this for you.” I shuddered. Apart from the guards and my family, no one knew my real name. Everyone called me Casey—my nickname for as long as I could remember.

Then I heard the sound of breath leaving him. At that moment, I knew he had died.

That’s when I hit the floor in the middle of the cell. I started weeping because I knew, somehow, that this was Almighty God, even though I didn’t understand what he had done for me. After hitting the floor, I knew I had to get on my knees. I started confessing my sins: God, I’m sorry for stabbing so many people. God, I’m sorry I robbed so many families.

With each new confession, I felt another weight come off my shoulders. When I finished, I knew something major had happened.

I asked to see a chaplain, who opened his Bible and explained who Jesus was and told me that what I experienced in that cell was salvation. He handed me a Bible and urged me to start reading.

I’d spend five or six hours reading that Bible, then fall asleep, wake up, and do some push-ups and calisthenics before picking up where I had left off. I didn’t understand half of what I was reading, but that didn’t bother me.

That was the start of my journey of faith. Eventually, I was released from solitary confinement and returned to the mainline prison population, where I was beaten for being a Christian and turning my back on my fellow gang members. But I was okay with that, because I was no longer a shot caller. I had found a new calling: telling other inmates about Jesus.

Casey Diaz is the author of The Shot Caller: A Latino Gangbanger’s Miraculous Escape from a Life of Violence to a New Life in Christ (Thomas Nelson). He lives in Los Angeles, where he owns a sign-making business and serves as a part-time pastor.

Original here