Christians Packing Churches in India as Christianity Sees Surprising Growth Despite Rising Persecution Cases

(Facebook/Calvary Temple)Thousands of believers gather at Calvary Temple in Hyderabad, India for Sunday service.

Although India is a predominantly Hindu nation, Christians are reportedly packing churches by the thousands.

A farming community in Rajasthan, India's largest state, shows one example of Christianity's remarkable growth in the subcontinent despite continuing reports of Christian persecution, according to The Gospel Herald.

One church there has a congregation of about 2,000 believers who attend Sunday service. In some cases, members of a family have to take turns going to the service so that someone is left at home to take care of the farm animals.

Christians who attend church service in India come "from all walks of life," including farmers and city residents.

According to Christianity Today, there are approximately 25 to 60 million Christians in India today, most of them Catholics, while about 1 billion Indians are Hindus.

Calvary Temple, an even bigger Christian church, is located in the city of Hyderabad. The megachurch can hold 35,000 people. It holds five services every Sunday, each one packed with worshippers. The church, pastored by Satish Kumar, is dubbed as the "largest church in India."

"Many Americans think nothing is happening among Christians in India," Kumar told Christianity Today. "We have to change that opinion."

The growth of Christianity in India ironically comes at a time when the number of reported persecution cases among Christians in the subcontinent is also rising. In August, the Evangelical Fellowship of India released a report identifying "134 separate incidents of violence" committed on Christians within the first six months of the year.

Considering that it was only for the first half of the year, the number is deemed high compared to those of 2014 (147 cases) and 2015 (177 cases).

The report linked the surge in violence against Christians to the "ominous and all-permeating impunity" of the authorities under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India ranks number 17 on Open Doors' World Watch List of countries where Christians are most persecuted.

Open Doors calls the persecution level in India as "severe," noting that the level of impunity for Hindu extremists has increased.

However, church leaders in India said they face a bigger challenge: How to train more pastors to sustain church growth.

Lifestyle