Tennessee pastor Bryan Nerren has been arrested and incarcerated for alleged religious targeting in India, according to the Tennessean.
Nerren, leader of the International House of Prayer Ministries in Shelbyville, was initially detained in New Delhi when police discovered that he was carrying large amounts of cash. When questioned, he explained that the funds were to cover expenses for two conferences. But authorities also asked him if he was connected to any Christian causes and eventually allowed him to fly to Bagdogra.
Nerren’s attorney claims that the pastor was permitted to fly to Bagdogra but not given a form to claim the money, causing officials to flag and arrest him upon his arrival. He was denied visitation from the U.S. Consulate or his attorney. After six days in jail, he was offered a hearing and released on bail; however, authorities took away his passport, thereby detaining him in the country.
“Pastor Nerren is trapped in India with no passport, making even the most mundane of tasks difficult,” the ACLJ, a religious freedom advocacy group, said in a statement according to Faithwire. “He cannot leave. He cannot come home to his wife, children, and young grandchildren who surely can’t comprehend what’s happening to their grandfather. He cannot care for his special-needs daughter here in the United States who needs round-the-clock assistance, meaning his wife is left to take care of her alone, while also constantly worrying about her husband. His entire family is suffering from this injustice.”
His wife, Rhonda, has urged for prayer.
“My husband has done nothing wrong,” she said. “His only crime is living out his steadfast love for Jesus…Please pray for our family. Pray for the hearts of the officials who have the power to give him back his passport and let him come back to us. And pray for our legal team at the ACLJ as they work on our behalf to bring him home.”
Nerren’s attorney and wife will meet with state senators on Wednesday for updates on his case. The State Department has been active in trying to return the pastor home.
A petition, boasting over 65,000 signatures, for Nerren’s release implores the Indian government to release him.
“Pastor Nerren should not have to spend one more day trapped in India after being targeted and wrongly accused by the customs agent in New Delhi,” it reads.
The pastor’s arrest comes in the wake of increased Christian persecution in India. As Christian Headlines previously reported, over 200 violent incidents against Christians have been recorded in India this year alone and many other attacks are not reported to authorities.
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.