Story India | 03 June 2024

Narendran and Kavita: Redeeming persecution in India


Show: true / Country: India / India
When Narendran* and Kavita*first moved into their village in India, they were excited to be stepping out into their own ministry. They were a young couple with a one-month-old baby. As far as they knew, they were the only Christians in their new village, and they trusted that God would work through their ministry and bless them. 

But what happened to them in their new home would leave scars—and would show them how much God cares for them. What the family has experienced will never leave them; but thanks to the promises of God and the help and prayers of Open Doors supporters around the world, Narendran and Kavita are proof of the hope that Jesus brings.

A miraculous intervention

More than a decade after they first set foot in their village, Narendran and Kavita are now in their early 40s. But they both have a sense of joy that shows through their cheerful smiles. Even as they share the painful parts of their stories, it’s clear that a deep faith abides in each of them. 
Narendran explains how he initially felt a calling to ministry. “I belonged to a traditional Hindu family,” he says. “Our family came to know about the Lord after experiencing miraculous deliverance from our problems and sicknesses. I committed my life for the Lord’s ministry." After assisting a pastor for several years, Narendran decided to start a ministry. He and Kavita were married and began ministering in a small village. 

The couple began to work to build God’s Kingdom, sharing the gospel and planting the seeds of Jesus’ hope and love.  “God did many miracles,” Narendran remembers. “A cancer patient, who doctors had given up hope for, received healing through our prayers. People began to believe in Jesus, and the church grew.” 

Kavita remembers the struggles in these early days of ministry.  “We had no financial support from anyone,” she says. “Since we needed a place for worship, I sold the jewelry given to me by my parents; [we] used it to buy a piece of land.”

On that land, the couple built a bamboo shed for church services. Gradually, more people [began coming], and the church soon grew to 40 believers. The church continued for more than a decade—growing and testifying to God’s goodness and the hope of the gospel. 

But not everyone in the village welcomed the bold faith of Narendran and Kavita. 

‘Lord, please keep us safe’

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As their ministry continued, Narendran begin to feel led to pray for protection for their family and ministry. “Even before things started happening, I was being guided in spirit to pray this prayer: ‘Lord, please keep us safe from all troubles,’” he says. “I had questions in my mind, but I continued praying this prayer. I know now that this prayer was for a purpose.” 

The church’s persecution began during a New Year’s service. As the believers were gathered together, Narendran and Kavita noticed some young people entering the church grounds. “We thought they were some new people joining the meeting,” Narendran explains. “However, after some time, they left the church hall.” 

The couple thought nothing of it until the New Year’s meetings were over. “When the service ended, we were shocked to see that the footwear (shoes) of the believers that were left outside the church hall [many Indian believers attend church without shoes, as they regard church as holy ground] were all cut to pieces with knives,” Narendran says. “We could not understand what had happened. However, later we found out this had been done by the young people [we had seen]. We did nothing but left the matter to God. We did not want to argue with our fellow villagers.” 

After this strange event, the persecution became even more explicit. Narendran recalls a time when the church was preparing for a funeral. As he and the other believers were carrying the coffin to where it would be buried, they were stopped by some young extremists who told them they couldn’t bury the Christian body in the cemetery. They made Narendran stand in the graveyard for two hours before they finally allowed him to proceed with the burial service. 

“In the past, we had done so many burials at the village burial ground, and there had been no issues,” Narendran says. “This time, these young people interrupted and made me wait for two hours. They just wanted to torment me.” 

But the worst was yet to come. 

A few days after the incident at the graveyard, Narendran and Kavita were gathered with a few other Christians for a night of prayer. “As the prayer service was going on, I noticed a few young boys standing at the church gate, looking around,” Kavita remembers. “I went outside to check. Immediately, two of those boys abused me verbally and shouted: ‘Why are you making so much noise? You cannot conduct such prayers here.’ 

“I replied that we would be ending the prayer,” she continues. “We concluded the prayer meeting and left the hall; but the boys continued to threaten us, using abusive language. They shouted at all the believers and started to beat my husband. All the gathered Christians fled to their homes.” 

Narendran is grim as he remembers what happened next. “They punched my eyes, tore my shirt and beat me severely,” he says. “Then they started hitting my wife; she fell unconscious.” When the attackers saw that they had successfully disrupted the service and injured the couple, they fled the scene.

A photo of persecuted Christians in India

Narendran sustained internal nerve damage—even as he tells his story, he still suffers from the resulting pain. He suffered injuries all over. Kavita had previously been hospitalized for an unrelated health concern, so when she went to protect Narendran, she was injured quickly. 

When an ambulance came to take the couple to the hospital, the attackers saw they were leaving and told the ambulance drivers to drop off the couple and say nothing about the attack. Even at the hospital, Narendran and Kavita were denied proper treatment because the extremists influenced the doctors. Only when other pastors and a lawyer pressured the doctor was the that the couple given the necessary medical care. 

Because of their injuries and the delay in treatment, Narendran and Kavita were hospitalized for a week. And during that time, the extremists took advantage of the vacant church building. “The church door was left open, and the attackers destroyed chairs, drums and other items in the church,” Narendran says. 

Lasting consequences

Two persecuted Christians in IndiaWhile Narendran and Kavita were in the hospital, local Open Doors partners heard what had happened. Our partners came to pray with them and encourage them. Thanks to Open Doors supporters around the world, our partners were able to provide groceries to the couple as they struggled to afford their family's basic needs. 

It took several days to return to their normal life—Narendran and Kavita were deeply troubled by the attacks, left with lasting scars. The incident has had practical consequences as well—Narendran can’t go out for outreach or to visit members of the congregation because he fears extremists. And the church has shrunk after the violence. 

“Half of the believers stopped attending church after this incident, as the extremists went to each of their houses and threatened them with dire consequences if they continued to meet for worship,” Kavita says. “The remaining believers who come to church are also very afraid. They don’t want to talk to the pastor and leave the church immediately after the service. We cannot gather for prayers at night or worship the Lord freely. We have stopped using musical instruments, clapping our hands or even singing loudly.” 

‘We realized we are not alone’

Before the persecution began, Narendran and Kavita depended upon offerings from the church for their income. But now, because many members of the church can no longer attend, Narendran’s and Kavita’s family continues to struggle financially. 

Two Indian Christians with food aid

Fortunately, your gifts and prayers were once again able to help with this long-term need. When Open Doors partners learned about the couple’s situation, they bought them a sewing machine which led to them opening a tailoring shop. 

Narendran and Kavita sees this help as a clear example of God’s provision. “When Elijah was afraid and was hiding, an angel of the Lord came to him, gave him food and encouraged him saying, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too long,’” Kavita says. “In the same way, when we were worried and struggling, Open doors partners supported us with prayer and practical aid, through which we are able to continue our ministry. We would have been living in fear and anxiety if you had not come to our aid. We realized we are not alone. God’s people stand with us in our troubles and support us through prayer.” 

Despite the ongoing challenges, Narendran and Kavita are determined to stay close to the Lord and not let anything pull them away from their calling. They continue the ministry in the same village, trusting in the Lord that He will be with them and lead them. 

The wounds from the attack, either physical or emotional, didn’t disappear overnight, and the couple continues to heal. But the God who has been with the couple since the beginning is the same God who is with them now—and who they will continue to trust. 

“We were sad thinking about why these things had happened to us,” Kavita says, her eyes brimming with emotion. “We could not forget the incident and were not able to come out of mental trauma for days. We thought that we could not continue the ministry, but the Lord strengthened us through His Word, which said: ‘Do not be afraid, for I am with you.’

“We were encouraged, and we know now that persecution helped us to become stronger in faith—and that God will use it to bless our ministry. 

“Scripture says, ‘In this world you will have troubles. But take heart, I have overcome the world,’” Narendran says. “I believe God will not leave us alone and that nothing can separate us from the love of God. The more the Israelites were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread. Similarly, the more we face persecution, the more the Lord will bless our ministry. We have hope in God for our future.”

Here's how we can pray with Narendran and Kavita:
  • Please pray for Narendran and Kavita as they stay in the same village and continue their ministry. Pray for their protection and financial needs.
  • Kavita shares: “Please pray for our children; we all are so fearful after the incident. Pray that the Lord would protect us and our children always. Pray also for our good health. I fall sick frequently—please pray that I am able to remain healthy.
  • Kavita also asks: “We are still living in a rented accommodation; please also pray that the Lord would provide us with our own house.”
  • Pray for the Christians from the church; many of them are too afraid to attend services. Pray that the Lord would bring peace so that the church could meet freely.
  • Pray for Christian leaders like Narendran who are vulnerable to attacks by extremists; ask God to protect them and strengthen their faith
  • Pray that Christians in India could have true equality and feel safe and free in their choice of worship and their decision to follow Jesus.
  • Ask God to change the hearts of Hindu extremists who oppose Christians in India. Pray they would see the hope and love of Jesus.

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