Lenten Devotional: Week One

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Across the globe, countless Christians endure various adversities — facing assault, imprisonment, and even death — for their faith. In India alone, the United Christian Forum reported over 700 incidents of violence and hostility against Christians in 2023.

While we hope most of us may never experience such challenges, many fellow Christians face diverse tribulations for their beliefs. Divya (name changed), a 30-year-old woman from Uttar Pradesh, knows firsthand what it is like to face such trials.

On December 18, 2022, local police arrested Divya during a prayer meeting, triggered by a false complaint from a neighbour who labelled the gathering as a religious conversion event.

As one of the few Christians in the village, Divya's family endured constant harassment from villagers who opposed their faith. Divya recalls acquiring a Bible on loan for Rs. 250/- ($3 USD) and settled the amount after saving two weeks' pay. Shockingly, this neighbour went to great lengths, even destroying the cherished Bible.

On the day of the arrest, Divya was detained for about six hours at the police station. Swift intervention by ADF India allied lawyers led to her release on the same day.

Divya continued to face legal challenges under the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Conversion Act. ADF India lawyers petitioned the High Court of Allahabad to dismiss the charges against her, aiming to secure justice. After a year-long struggle, the court issued a favourable order on November 3, 2023, directing the state of Uttar Pradesh not to take coercive action against her.

Throughout this challenging journey, Divya's faith remained unshaken, trusting in God's promises. Today, she confidently asserts that she is not afraid of those who target her for her faith and vows to continue serving God as long as she lives.
1. Consider the courage displayed by Divya in the face of adversity. How can we draw strength from her example to stand firm in our own faith?

2. Contemplate the impact of false accusations and misinformation on individuals like Divya. How can we combat falsehoods and promote truth in our communities?
God, you are near to the lonely and to those being imprisoned for their faith. Thank you for their strength and their courage. May your presence strengthen them and grant them unwavering courage. Bless the efforts of ADF India allied lawyers as they earnestly labour to pursue justice. Amen.
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