India Missionary Facing Trial Over "Forced" Conversions

Saturday, January 31, 2009

By Joe DeCaro, Worthy News International Correspondent

NEW DELHI, INDIA (Worthy News) -- A major mission group in India said one of its missionaries was out of jail Saturday, January 31, but cautioned he still awaits trial for allegedly forcing people to convert to Christianity in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Gospel for Asia (GFA) said Yashpal Bhuta Masih was detained in Madhya Pradesh after being "falsely accused" of violating India's "Freedom of Religion" statue that forbids conversions from "force, fraud or allurement."

Masih was taken into custody while leading three small congregations of 56 Christian converts, according to GFA investigators.

"Most of these new Christians are descendants of a tribe whose followers worship idols. Masih has a special burden for this tribe because his own father was a priest in their religion," GFA explained. Indian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Masih continues his work as a GFA missionary in a different town, but is due to stand trial in the city in Madhya Pradesh where he was detained, Christians said. No more details were released apparently because of security concerns.


GFA added in a statement, monitored by Worthy News, that its leaders  asked Christians "to pray for justice to be done and that the Lord would grant Masih the strength to endure his upcoming trial."

Christians comprise a minority in India, a mainly Hindu nation of some 1.2 billion people. Yet, Hindu nationalist organizations and other radical groups have expressed outrage over the reported spread of Christianity in especially impoverished rural areas.

Several Indian states introduced anti-conversion laws, seen by rights groups as an attempt by Hindu-leaning authorities to crackdown on churches and missionary activities.