Christian Widow Forced To ‘Reconvert’ In Eastern India

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) - A Christian widow in India’s eastern Odisha state has been forced to ‘re-convert to her old religion by villagers who threatened to prevent her husband’s funeral, Christian aid workers discovered.

Her husband, from the Koya tribal group, which mainly practices a traditional animistic Indian religion, reportedly professed faith in Jesus Christ and started to attend church with his wife.

Other family members also turned to Christianity, according to Christians familiar with the situation.

Barnabas Fund, an aid group supporting believers in India, told Worthy News that after his death, “the Koya villagers forcibly took money from the widow.”

They allegedly “coerced her into re-joining their community, effectively forcing her to re-convert and conducted her husband’s funeral in the traditional, non-Christian way.”

The widow was not identified amid security concerns. In remarks shared with Worthy News, the widow said she had “no other way, and so accepted their custom.”


But the widow reportedly told her pastor: “I will not leave the Lord Jesus. I will come back again.”

Barnabas Fund said the “Christian woman, under tremendous pressure as well as grief from the loss of her husband, was also physically attacked.”

The attacker was identified as her husband’s brother, who “during a dispute over the situation attempted to beat her.” Worthy New wasn’t able to reach out to the brother for comment.

The widow’s husband recently died after he faced opposition from members of his community for his conversion to Christianity, according to Christians.

Tribe members allegedly confiscated parts of his land and sought to obstruct his work on what remained.

Persecution of Christians in rural areas is a persistent issue in India, a heavily Hindu nation with several other religions, including Odisha.


In May, a crowd of around 150 Hindu hardliners reportedly attacked and destroyed a church building in Odisha, which was being constructed in the village of Bodoguda.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) recorded 327 instances of discrimination and targeted violence against Christians in 2020, including five murders.

At least six churches were burnt or destroyed and 26 incidents of social boycotting in that period, according to EFI investigators.

The EFI said this was “by no means an exhaustive list.” The EFI noted that “Christians, especially in rural areas of several states across the country.”

Believers, it stressed, “were victims of violence, had their congregational prayers disturbed, and places of worship attacked.”

EFI is a charter member of the World Evangelical Alliance. It says its membership includes over 54 protestant denominations and related congregations over 65,000 Churches.

The EFI also supports over “150 Church-related mission agencies and organizations and thousands of individual members.”