September 15, 2023


US Pastor Jailed in India: Bryan Nerren

Hosted by

Pieter Friedrich
US Pastor Jailed in India: Bryan Nerren
Dialoguing on South Asia (DOSA)
US Pastor Jailed in India: Bryan Nerren

Sep 15 2023 | 01:21:03


Show Notes

With Pastor Bryan Nerren, who was arrested and jailed in India in 2019 for over seven months. Discussing his 20+ years serving a children's ministry in Nepal and northeastern India, how his arrest in West Bengal was a crash course in the changed climate of Modi-ruled India, what he felt and did during his time in custody, details of his release, his work now engaging with Indian-American Christians to raise awareness about persecution, and much more.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Dialoguing on South Asia, we explore the lives of its people, hear their stories on the histories of the black, discover its beauty and encounter, its conflicts, complexities, and harmonies in a search for liberty, peace and prosperity. Interacting with leaders, activists, academics, and common folk from the South Asian sphere about their work and their passions, their dreams and their life journeys, their immigrant experiences, advocacy efforts, religion, politics, and so much more. With this, your host, journalist and author, Peter Friedrich, hand in hand. We meet and stand with South Asia. This is doa. Speaker 2 00:00:43 Welcome once again to the show. This is DOA and we're here today with Pastor Brian, uh, Neen, or is it Reen? Naren ne. Speaker 3 00:00:52 This slow Southern Naren Speaker 2 00:00:55 Naren Naren pastor. There you go. Pastor Brian Maren. How you doing, sir? Speaker 3 00:00:59 Doing well. Great to see you. Speaker 2 00:01:01 Well, pleasure to have you on the show. And I have to be honest with you, I believe this is the first time this is a new show, but I do believe that this is the first time that we've actually had an accused criminal, um, as our guest. So I'm looking forward to an entertaining conversation and, uh, learning the, uh, ins and outs of what it's like to be behind bars. Speaker 3 00:01:23 That is me, for sure. <laugh>. Alright. Speaker 2 00:01:26 Well, one of the last places, uh, that we met, uh, last month, uh, we were together for a couple of days. We had a chance to, uh, sit down for a couple of meals. I believe one of our closest to last meals was at the International House of Pancakes, ihop. Yeah. But my understanding is you're a pastor and you actually, uh, you're affiliated with ihop, but a very different kind of an ihop and you're, you're based out of Tennessee. So Pastor Brian, can you, uh, just give a brief introduction, uh, who you are, what you do? Speaker 3 00:01:58 Yeah, of course. My name is Brian Naren. Um, I'm married to a wife, Rhonda, Rhonda, and I've been married for the last 44 years. I've got two children. Uh, uh, my son has three grandchildren, so I'm just a regular, average type of guy. Uh, I have been pastoring the International House of Prayer Ministries, which is a church here in Tennessee. Uh, just celebrated our 25th anniversary a couple of weeks ago. Uh, and then for the last 20, congratulations, Speaker 2 00:02:25 By the way. Speaker 3 00:02:26 I'm sorry. Speaker 2 00:02:27 Congratulations on that, by the way. Oh, Speaker 3 00:02:29 Thank you. Thank you very much. Not a lot of Speaker 2 00:02:30 People make it that long. Speaker 3 00:02:32 That's what everybody keeps telling me. It, it came to my attention from a friend about a year ago, and they were having that conversation, said, you've been there 25 years. And I'm, yeah, it's the first time I've ever pastored. It's the first church I've ever pastored. So I kind of thought that was normal. Uh, but got a really great church, thriving church, growing church, uh, really enjoy being a pastor. And then, uh, for the last 21 years I've been doing work in, uh, Nepal and Northeast India among children. Uh, it's a Christian organization. We're a 5 0 1 C three called the Asian Children's Education Fellowship. And, uh, we are singular in focus. We do a few other things, but we're pretty much singular in focused. We teach Sunday school teachers 18 to 27 year old to teach and love children. Uh, we don't care what kind of children they are. We are a Christian based organization, but we work with the children that are there. We don't care what religion they are, what their background is. The only thing they all have in common with is they're in some kind of significant level of poverty. Speaker 2 00:03:42 Well, I look forward to unpacking a little bit more of that with you and what got you into that. Um, but with your, with your ministry there, uh, for the listeners, um, what got you into ministry and what kind of a church, uh, are you a pastor of? How you said, uh, this is the first church you've pastored. How, how, how long have you been a pastor? And, and of course, as I I as I said, what was it that drew you into, into this course, into this line of, uh, life? Speaker 3 00:04:10 Well, as a, as a kid growing up, I grew up, uh, a heath. Uh, I didn't know anything about God. Uh, my grandparents raised me. They didn't like preachers. They didn't like church. Uh, but then through a, another, uh, little legal problem, I ran into as a 15 year old, uh, or excuse me, as a 13 year old, uh, I broke the windshield out of a woman's car with a baseball bat. 'cause she yelled at me for crossing her yard. And, uh, the end result was after the police were called. And she said that these kids, I'm the oldest of four, will go with me to vacation Bible school. I won't have Brian arrested. And so my mom thought that was a good idea. And, and I began, I went to church for my very first time that I was paying attention to. Uh, and then in the next couple of years, the Lord really got my attention. Speaker 3 00:05:00 Uh, I became a Christian at 14 and by 15 at the age of 15, I knew that I wanted to do that for a living. I wanted to do that for a life is to be involved with people and helping people. And, uh, at, at the same time, I, I didn't know hardly anything about God at all myself. I was having to learn. And, um, and I remember in high school, I would carry a full Bible. It was a small lump Bible, but it, it, it was a full Bible, new Testament, old Testament in my back pocket from the time I became a Christian until I graduated. And so at study hall and wherever I got a chance, I was trying to figure out who God was. And he was kind enough to put some good people in my life and let me learn the, uh, the group that I, uh, was, became a Christian, was a Pentecostal group. Speaker 3 00:05:46 Uh, I pastor an independent Pentecostal church. We don't belong to any other groups or denominations, but that's, uh, how I got there. I I spent most of my life in the steel industry. I'm a manufacturing specialist of automotive parts and stuff, and restaurant equipment. Two different, uh, veins of working in the steel industry. Uh, was on a search committee for a church, uh, that I was attending in Cleveland, Ohio. Uh, looking for a, uh, administrator and a s for a Christian school and a pastor. After several months, they said, why don't you just take the job, Brian? And I felt I will, I always wanted to. That was my introduction. And I got into the ministry there. Uh, three years later I moved back to Tennessee. I originally was born in Tennessee when we moved back here, and I started pastoring a church of 15 people to see how it would work. And here I am still here. Speaker 2 00:06:45 Well, and, uh, moved back to Tennessee, got pulled back. Uh, you, you've been a pastor for what about, uh, 10 years, 20 years, Speaker 3 00:06:51 25 years, two weeks ago, 25 years. Speaker 2 00:06:55 Coinciding with your 25th marriage anniversary? Speaker 3 00:06:59 No, marriage is 44 years. Speaker 2 00:07:01 Marriage is 44 years. Okay, well, that's Speaker 3 00:07:03 <crosstalk>. Yeah. Your whole life. I've been married, Peter. Speaker 2 00:07:06 All right then. Congratulations on that. Uh, I look forward to, uh, um, doing what I can to view that as a model for my own life. Well, so somewhere along the way, um, you, you did take some kind of an interest in, in South Asia, you mentioned Nepal and, and Northern, Northern India. And what was it, um, that came into your life that, that, that, that drew you in to that? Like, what, what came across your path? How did you get introduced to the issue of South Asia? Did you just randomly pick up and go to see the Taj Mahal one day and decide to, you've fallen in love with the area, or what happened? Speaker 3 00:07:42 I, when I was 15, I read an article in a magazine that only been to Christian A. Little bit. And, uh, I read an article in there on, uh, Pakistan, India and Nepal. And I just, it, it became a, you know, one of these days it'll be a cool idea and I'll get to go and see. And course after, you know, I continued to grow in the Lord and become very active and was actually doing some missionary work in South America. When I met a guy named Glen Shepherd, Glen said, I want you to go to Nepal with me. And I'm like, well, I'd love to go, but I'm busy and I can't go. But anyhow, the Lord really pushed me to go with Glen. And so in 2001, we were on our way to Nepal, and a little something happened in the US called nine 11. And so the year that I was, first year I was going, of course the trips got canceled. 2002, I did make my first trip. I fell in love with the people, the country. And it was just a, you know, it's what I was born to do. And it all came together and God showed me, you know, this is what all of that other stuff meant was, so you could come here and, and help people. And so I began that in 2002. Speaker 2 00:08:50 In, in 2002. Uh, when you first went over, did you go just to Nepal or or to northern India? Both to northern India. What, what states in Northern India have you tended to go to as well? Speaker 3 00:09:01 Uh, my first trip I went to Thailand and then to, and to Nepal. Fell in love with Nepal. Uh, I did not go to India my first time until 2005, about three or four years later. And up until the time that I, I was arrested, I'd never been anywhere in India except for West Bengals and Sikh Northeast Speaker 2 00:09:23 West Speaker 3 00:09:24 Bengals. And the reason, the, the reason for that is most of the people in that region speak that Nepali language before colonization Darling and Scom was part of Nepal and a little bit of Bhutan. But then after the British did all the rearranging and dancing, uh, those Nepali sparks ended up being part of West Bengal, which is India today. So, Speaker 2 00:09:49 And as a point of interest, do you yourself speak some Nepali? Speaker 3 00:09:54 Uh, if I'm in the country and I stay there a week, I get where I can understand it pretty good. Uh, after two or three weeks, I can begin to communicate a little bit. But the king of Nepal in 1990 opened the country up for the first time for tourism. And when he opened the country up for tourism, he mandated that all education from like the fifth grade, fourth grade for them own would be in English. And so most of the, anywhere you go in the poll, people will speak really good English, uh, and they certainly understand English. So it's not necessary for me. Nepal is a lot like India, you know, India's got hundreds of different dialects and languages. Well, so does Nepal Nepal's, the same way it used there, used to every different mountain you switch was a different kingdom and a different king, and, you know, year 50, a hundred years ago. So, Speaker 2 00:10:50 So at some point from when you began this work in 2002, and, and you said that, uh, in 2005, then that's when you first, uh, got a chance to go to India at some point, this became relatively routine for you to, to do, right? I mean, you were going, what, once a year or twice a year, something like that? Speaker 3 00:11:08 It became really routine right away. I went in 2002 for the one trip, uh, 2003, I made two trips. And I've been going almost every year, twice a year. April and October for 21 years. Speaker 2 00:11:21 For how long do you go? Speaker 3 00:11:24 Uh, it is always, uh, at least two weeks. Uh, sometimes three weeks. I've stayed a month time, but my wife doesn't think that's a good idea to stay gone from home too long. But it's normally a two week trip in April and a two week trip in October. Speaker 2 00:11:40 And you said that the focus of your work has mostly been, uh, almost exclusively been on this training of 18 to 27 year olds to be Sunday school teachers. Um, what, what is that, what is that training, uh, and what has that training looked like? What, what do you, what do you do there on the ground? Speaker 3 00:11:57 Well, that very first trip I went, I met the guy that I'm still working with, and he manages and runs our, everything we do there is indigenous, uh, they teach their own people and train their own people. Uh, each year, right now, each year we will train about 12,000, uh, students to, to work with children. And, uh, we've been doing that for, for many years now. So we've trained over 230,000 to poly speaking men and women to teach children and work with children. And the scope of what we do, uh, this will be the easiest, it's a long story, but this is the easy way to explain it. If you sign up to be in our program, 18 to 24 year old, you're finished your regular schooling and you're, you've decided most of 'em have decided not to go into secondary education, um, in, in their college or anything. So if they want to be trained in our program, their first day of signup, their first class is 10 days. They have to go to a school for 10 days for an introductory course that lasts two years to be fully trained as a children's worker. And many of our children workers have gone on and they're, they're, they're actually school teachers now because they, you know, they work with children in every direction, shape and form. Speaker 2 00:13:20 And you said that this, this is something that's focused on, um, providing for children of all of all religious backgrounds. It's, it's not just for Christian children, Speaker 3 00:13:32 Right? It, we work with every child. In fact, most of, uh, a lot of the different pro, one of the programs that we've done, uh, that's kind of tangible and easy for people to understand is we do a joint thing with Rotary International, where they, we, we do a project and then they pay half of us back. So it's called a, a joint deal. But we will, uh, we'll buy about a thousand to 1700 uniforms, books and shoes every year. Because Nepal and India, both are, are secular nations now, uh, Nepal wasn't when I started, but in 2006 it had been, their constitution says that all children, regardless of race, creed, color, you know, the whole deal of, of equality is entitled to a public education the same as the United States. Except they all have one caveat. Uh, that child must be able to provide its own uniform books and shoes that eliminates, uh, about 60 or 70% of the Nepali children. Speaker 3 00:14:36 It eliminates 25 or 30% of the Indian children. And so, uh, when after Edmund Hillary had, uh, went up Mount Everest and summited Mount Everest, he wanted to give back to the country of Nepal and Northeast India where the Himalayas are. And he built 1000 school buildings. He raised the money and built a thousand school buildings. The problem was, is they didn't have a thousand teachers. Uh, even today, there's many of those school buildings that scattered out through the Himalayas that are used for purposes other than education. And one of the, the big components was when the caste system was active in Nepal. And it's still active in India, Nepal, both, I just say it's not, but the old caste system, if you were in the lower couple of cast, you were not legally permitted to reiterate. And so Hillary didn't understand that or thought it would change, or, anyhow, he built a lot of schools in a lot of places where it wasn't even permissible for kids to learn to read. Speaker 3 00:15:36 Well, now they can legally since 2006, but they still can't because they're too poor. Uh, a uniform for a kid is only $20, cus we have 'em tailor made. 'cause you can't go to Walmart in the Himalayas and buy school uniforms and school clothes. But it's, it's 20 bucks for a pair of shoes and a, a, a school uniform that lasts about three years in the station area, the books, they need to go to school. And so we pick villages, uh, my tra my staff there targets different places. And we'll go into a village where there's a building and the government hasn't provided teacher, but she may only have two or three or four students and will boost her school by a hundred kids. Speaker 2 00:16:19 That's incredible. And, Speaker 3 00:16:20 Uh, it's been a, it's been a super, super successful project after 21 years. Some of those kids that were never going to learn how to read and write today are in nurses school learned to be nurses and lawyers, and lots of super, super intelligent children have been held back because of their cast, because of their birth condition under Hinduism. Speaker 2 00:16:48 So let's, uh, once again, uh, pastor, that's, that's incredible. And sounds like a lot of the work that you've done has really taken advantage of the opening up of, of, of freedom of education or the protection of, of freedom of education there in Nepal. And related to that, uh, before we move on to some of your, your more recent and personal experiences, um, I know that, uh, I mean, you've been going, uh, to this region since 2002, and there was a governmental change, uh, uh, change in administration in, in India on, uh, 2014. Um, and since then, one of the things that has changed a lot in India, although, uh, the, the changes that have occurred during this time period in India, um, aren't, aren't so much, um, impacting Nepal as far as the time period, but Nepal's dealt with similar issues, uh, is, um, changes in, in freedom of religion in, in, in, in the laws. Speaker 2 00:17:51 Um, especially at this point now, there's probably about 50% of Indian states which have, um, on the books laws known as these anticon conversion laws, which basically require you to get government permission to change your religion. And I know that Nepal has dealt with some kind of similar, uh, types of legislation as well in the past. Um, from your perspective as a pastor, especially considering the, as you're talking about the work that you've done there, uh, it's focused on education. It's focused on providing education to children, uh, no matter what their religious background is. Um, I, I'd love to get your, your opinion on, on, uh, these laws, a few things about them. Uh, what do you think of these laws as a pastor? And, uh, then of course, one of the rationales offered for a lot of these laws is to prevent so-called fraudulent conversions being conducted, uh, because of things like, what's, what's termed alarm, such as people being paid off to, to change their religion or something like that. Um, and your perspective as a pastor, as, as an American, what do you, what do you think of these laws in general, and then also, especially as a pastor, um, and as somebody that's been there on the ground in South Asia, what, what do you think of this idea of somebody changing their religion because of alarm? Uh, do you support that in any way whatsoever? And especially, is that something that you've seen actually happening, um, in any way whatsoever in South Asia during, uh, your 21 years there? Speaker 3 00:19:39 You know, I, there is, there is no other way for any religion to change anybody from any other religion without a lure. The Hindus convert people to Hinduism by things and objects and experiences. Muslims do the same. Everybody, there's no such thing as a conversion to another religion without being a lured, because why would anybody wanna go if it was distasteful? So that's, it's kind of a, it's, it's an, a very ignorant law. It's a very dishonest law. It does exist in India and Nepal pretty much the same. But it is not even, uh, logical. It is simply a state run religion that has ever intentions of forcing their citizenship to worship at the state church. You know, both, both countries are Hindu in nature. Both countries openly say now, especially since 2014, that we are a Hindu nation. You don't wanna be here, you'll be a Hindu if you don't wanna be a Hindu. Speaker 3 00:20:45 That's pretty good allure to me, me, when they tell me they're gonna kill me or put me in prison if I don't join their religion. Uh, right. So they violate their own ethics and their own, there's no ethics, but they, they violate their own rules because they consistently are forcing conversion on non Hindu people to join the Hinduism. So as a pastor, uh, it doesn't bother me. There, there, it's a, it's a reli, it's a religious government. It's not a government for the people, by the people, as we, you know, think about the United States of America. It is, uh, the way they're going to do things and they don't really care. But I do know this, and I know we'll get into the story a little bit longer, more in a minute, but I, 'cause I had some extended, uh, judicial time in India. I was able to spend several months with a, uh, advocate lawyer from the Supreme Court in Delhi who represented me while I was there. Speaker 3 00:21:44 And he was, he was so aggravated and so upset about how they have trashed and destroyed so much of the Indian constitution. What the, the, the whole thing about allure and, and, and converting people is a complete total violation of their own constitution. 75 years ago, it was established, and it, it is just a violation. The Constitution says in clear words, you have the freedom to practice any religion you want to or none. You have the freedom to convert anybody to your religion if you're good enough at it to convince 'em. I guess that's all ment, right? So it, it's, it's, it, it, it's a disguise for, you know, for, um, dictatorship. It, it, it's a disguise for government, uh, authoritarianism. It, it nationalism is about, there's 10 or 15 of us that are super smart. We're super intelligent, and the rescue dumb people need to do what we tell you. Speaker 3 00:22:47 That's the, what's really happening is it's not, it hasn't got anything to do with religion at all. Uh, you know, I know good Hindu people who thinks it's atrocious that anybody would force, you know, that they're Hindu by choice or Hindu because they want to be. And they think it ought to be that way for everybody else. And if they don't like Hinduism, they're perfectly fine with me being a Christian. I've never had any negative conversations with tons spouses of Hindu people. I don't attack them, they don't attack me. I respect them. They respect me, not the present activity of India. Speaker 2 00:23:24 Well, that was a little bit of an out of left field answer from what I might've expected, and made a lot of sense from a logical perspective. Um, that, that idea that every religion by nature uses alert in, in one sense or another to attract, attract followers. Um, that trying to prohibit conversion byor is really contrary to the idea of, of even having a religion. Um, but, uh, as you said, um, this is really all about dictatorship, about this authoritarianism and, and having this system where 10 or 15 people think that they're really smart and everybody else is really stupid. And those 10 or 15 people think that they can set the, uh, stage for how everyone else has to play out their rules. Now, um, leading into your personal experience, um, which was in, began in 2019, um, in 2014, uh, this new government came into power in India. Speaker 2 00:24:22 Uh, the, the B J p uh, party took power with, with Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister. And since you'd been going to South Asia for such a long period of time, um, before that, uh, for, for what, uh, 12 years before that, and then for many years after that, uh, before you were, uh, eventually imprisoned, what what was it that you saw, if anything, um, as far as, um, evidence of some kind of a shift in environment, uh, uh, uh, feeling within society in India, uh, where you were actually, uh, imprisoned, um, uh, or, or, um, uh, attitude, behavior, feeling of, of lack of security, uh, uh, among the Christian community, that sort of thing. Speaker 3 00:25:14 Uh, for me personally, in 2019, when I was traveling in October and was arrested, I was completely blindsided. Uh, I do a lot of research and pay attention to the government of Nepal where I travel all the time. And, and there's probably not a a, there's not a, as far as I know, there's not a road that's surfaced in Nepal, uh, that I haven't been on and ever village along the way. I, I've traveled extensively there, so I pay attention to their government. 'cause their government's always changed. You know, every couple of years they throw the government away and start all over and throw the government away. So I kept up with that. I was not keeping up with the change of governments in India, because India, for the last hundred years, has been an easy enough place for anybody to go and enjoy and see and, and do what they wanted to. Speaker 3 00:26:02 So when I was arrested in the Sigar airport, I was com or back Dogger airport, I was completely blindsided. I, I, I came through Delhi and I did what I normally always do. Uh, if, if anybody has ever flown through Delhi, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. It's the most confusing airport in the world. Nobody ever knows where to go, what to do. Only real command that they all memorize from the first training class they got is just you eight. Where do I go? Just you weight. What should I do? Just you weight, what just you weight? And, uh, in 2019, it was no different than the other years that I through Deadly. Uh, we got there in the middle. I got there at one o'clock in the morning. The computers were down. Uh, it was the middle of festival. The computer people had took off and gone to a festival and they couldn't get things to work. Speaker 3 00:26:55 And it was just, you wait, just you wait, do this, do that. And I, I went to the normal process of declaration and getting our, uh, it was the first year that I'd ever used the electronic visa where we were, didn't have to send a passport in ahead of time. We just did an application. And we went through that process and stamped, we did declaration. But the, the thing that changed was when we got to the last security checkpoint, before going to the domestic to fly to another place in India, they asked me questions that I've never been asked before. Speaker 2 00:27:26 So, had, had you already gotten through immigration and, and you were now, uh, past that and passport stamps and everything? I've been, Speaker 3 00:27:33 Yeah, I'd been through immigration, passport stamps, visa stamps, had our luggage, did the, you know, the, down into the dark dungeon hallway and back up and back into the re part of the airport, of the domestic airport. Uh, but they, they asked me questions at security checkpoints. I've never been asked before, are you a Christian? I've never been asked if I was a Christian before in India. I've been asked a whole lot of times in Nepal. I've never been asked, are you a Christian? And then they asked, would you, will you be meeting with Christians while you're in India? Yes. We're both answered. And I was carrying some money with me. There was three of us American pastors that were traveling together. I was carrying money to fund the things that we've talked about already. And they said, well, Speaker 2 00:28:17 Were you were carrying money to fund things like, like paying for teacher training? Uh, yeah. Okay. Speaker 3 00:28:24 Yeah. In October, we always do a couple of conferences. We invite, we do two different locations. We invite a thousand of our best students to each location across wherever, India or Nepal. And, uh, but you know, is anybody in, uh, India going to receive any of this money? And I said, well, we were just traveling through India on this particular trip, going to Nepal. I said, I don't have a plan, but if I get a chance to help somebody, I will always have. Nobody ever carried, never made any difference. Uh, but after the fourth security person in a row asked me the identical three questions, I told one of the guys that was traveling with me, I said, something's really changed here. Something's completely 'cause ca security in India, especially their airport never existed. You know, it just come through, wander through. I don't know where to tell you to go, where do I go there? I don't know. Ask somebody else. I don't know. And that part hadn't changed that year, but there, there was a very keen focus on Christianity. Um, before the day would be finished, I would get 10 different interviews, 10 different officers, 10 different levels from security to the tax officers, uh, to, uh, customs officers. And every one of those 10 men started off with the exact same identical questions. Obviously, they had been trained and they were doing what they were ordered or told to do by their superiors. And that was, uh, find out who's Christian. Speaker 2 00:30:01 So, Speaker 3 00:30:01 But find out who's bringing money to the Christians in the PO in India. Speaker 2 00:30:06 So all of this, uh, it sounds like all of this happened at the Deli airport. 10 different, uh, interviews, 10 different people, uh, over one day, Speaker 3 00:30:16 Four, four different people in the deli airport. They cleared me, said, you're fine to fly. We understand. Don't worry about it. I flew onto back Dogger Airport. Uh, when I landed in back Dogger, I was arrested. As soon as I got off the plane, taken in, into custody, custom office, under custody. And everything I owned was confiscated. They had sent a letter ahead. They gave him a copy of the letter, uh, saying, this man is coming to you. He has this much money, even though nobody counted the money in Deli. They just took my word for how much was in there. He's bringing this much money due with him, what you will. Speaker 2 00:30:58 Now, that's probably one of the most perplexing, uh, and dystopian aspects, uh, for me, is that okay, they were planning to arrest you, but what after interrogating you multiple times in Delhi, they, they, they cleared you to go ahead and fly off to your, to your destination anyways. And then they arrested you when, when you landed there. So once you landed there, and, and this was West Bengal Correct. That you landed in? Speaker 3 00:31:22 Yes. Speaker 2 00:31:23 And once, once you landed there, um, they, they, they again took you aside. You said they confiscated everything. At what point did the, was it clear that, uh, you were actually under arrest? And once you were under arrest, what was the, what was the process over the next, uh, that night? Um, uh, were you the, the interview custody? Yeah, Speaker 3 00:31:43 The interview was done by six different officers. Those six officers in back Dogger Airport asked the same questions that they did in the daily airport. Uh, except they went further. They did good cop, bad cop, and all the different levels of interrogation. But they questioned me for eight straight hours. And it was at the end of eight hours that they said, we're gonna arrest the three of you, because there was two other guys traveling. They separated us in different rooms, you know, and doing the police investigation thing. And, uh, after a little bit of conversation, 'cause there was, they were still not telling me truth of what was the real plan. The chief s uh, told me, he said, well, because of these things, you're gonna have to go before a judge tomorrow. So we're gonna take you to jail tonight and hold you, and then tomorrow you'll see a judge and you'll pay the $200 that they should have collected from you and Deli, but didn't, and you'll be free to go. Well, none of that was true. Uh, but in that conversation, they let my two friends go, and I encouraged 'em to do it. I said, there's no need to put us all in jail, let them go. What I didn't realize is they were tricking me. Uh, it wasn't a good enough trick, but they were tricking me to take possession of all of the money that actually was split up between three people. Speaker 3 00:33:04 And, uh, later I would learn, the intention was, was to raise the, uh, amount of money that I had to a level that would have kicked me into a different, uh, criminal aspect. Unfortunately, I, I didn't have, I just barely had a whole half enough for that level that they were seeking. Uh, so it fell apart. So, but it didn't fall, it didn't fall apart until after I'd spent six days in Indian prison and was out on bail for three months before that adjudication process ran its course. Speaker 2 00:33:40 Now, you were, um, you were held, um, you were detained for an entirety of, of nine months, if I'm not mistaken, the initial Speaker 3 00:33:48 Seven, seven and a half, seven months. Speaker 2 00:33:51 Uh, seven and a half months. Well, well, in that case, I don't know if we should be having this conversation. And you get back to me when you've, when you've done night Speaker 3 00:33:57 When I've really suffered. Speaker 2 00:33:59 Yeah. Um, so in the, in the initial, uh, six days, you were actually in a Indian prison. And, and, and then, uh, after that, uh, can you describe, um, uh, the process of, uh, going from the Indian prison and then onto, onto other locations and, and how were you treated, uh, during this time? Um, were you, were you, um, uh, um, properly fed, uh, properly housed? Uh, were you, were you physically abused, verbally abused in any way whatsoever? Speaker 3 00:34:29 Uh, the, the six days in prison was terrible. I mean, it was an Indian prison. There was no edible food. There was no sanitation. It was just a, a, a barred place with a steel bed. And, uh, it, it was all bad. I mean, I could tell that story, but everybody's seen the movie already. Uh, it's exactly as bad as the bad movie. As you see after, uh, the American Center for Law and Justice became involved, in my case, the very first day, and they're the ones that got me out on bail after six days. They were going to keep me for 30 days before I could even have a bail hearing. Uh, they were able to get me out in six. The, the bail agreement was that I would be available to be interviewed with any officer of the customs department up on call. Speaker 3 00:35:17 I had to go to the airport or go wherever they told me to. Uh, the second condition was, is that I would appear in court every Wednesday and check in to let them know I was still there. They'd confiscated everything, including my passport, never gave it back. And through all this process. And then the third thing was that I had to stay at a guest house not far from the court. Uh, and I was only allowed to be there. I couldn't travel away from there except court and back, or to maybe a, a small shop or something that was located, you know, just up and down the street there. Uh, failure, uh, and all of that was at my personal expense. I had to rent my own motel. My, I had to do my own food. I had to do all of those things personally myself. And they had taken all of my money and all of my identification, uh, in India, you're not allowed to stay in a guest house or motel without checking your passport in with them. They kept my passport. I had no identification of any kind. They kept all of my money and there I was. Uh, but the, the to violation of bail was the biggest kicker because it said, if you are found to be in violation of any of these conditions, you'll be given life in prison without a trial. Speaker 3 00:36:37 Then that makes the whole thing really scary, because there, there's a group of people who are in charge of the country that's already arrested me, sent me to prison, and are holding me against my will without having broken a law, without doing anything wrong, just because I'm a Christian. Uh, the whole thing, and there's lots of pieces to the story, but all the way through it, there's always that thing. And, and even when the, the, our State Department did not get involved to help me until the fourth month. I had to prove myself innocent through the first three months with the original charges. And then they began working on charges and held me. Anyhow, they didn't release me. And then the State Department got involved. The State Department told me this, Peter, and this was pretty interesting. Uh, on day eight, I've been out of prison for two days. Speaker 3 00:37:27 The guy shows up from the consulate and he said, just wanted to let you know, face to face, we have an agreement with India. We do not help Americans arrested in India, period. We will not aid, we'll not assist, we will not answer your phone. We're not gonna help you do anything, and we cannot get, be in contact with you to this is over. You have to prove on your own expense, your own everything, your freedom, or you go to prison at that. The first case was for three years. The second one was for seven years in prison in India. And that's exactly what they did. Absolutely nothing for the first three months. Speaker 2 00:38:08 That's, uh, very interesting response from the, from the US State Department, especially in light of the kind of relationship that US and India have, which is one that's in the public eye viewed as very close, and your partnership alliance, and that you're just kind of left, hung out, the dry, uh, all on your own. I imagine, um, especially with those kinds of conditions of basically, uh, virtual house arrest and the threat hanging over over you, that if you break any of those, uh, bail conditions that you might face life imprisonment, uh, within, uh, foreign country like India, that that must have been extremely frustrating. Um, a a and in addition to that, my understanding is that, um, over the months in which you were going through this, that there was a constant, uh, change up, shift up in, in court dates, uh, I think maybe potentially even in charges that they were attempting to, to file against you. That it may not have always been the, the, the same thing is, is is that true? Speaker 3 00:39:11 It is true. The first three months I was, uh, being tried or going through a, a process called Come Show Me, which is the Indian judicial thing, uh, to explain why I had that amount of money and why I was going to spend it on Christians as a foreigner. They didn't, that was the thing. At the end of the three months, none of those things were illegal. And so they had to say, all right, we're sorry. So then they started the second round. The first round had a three year prison term. The second one had a seven year prison term where they were go. They never filed charges against me. It was like a grand jury hearing every Wednesday until Covid started. Uh, I spent my last six weeks in India under the total shut shutdown of Covid in the world. The whole world was shut down. Speaker 3 00:40:03 Uh, I was in the same bed, in the same room for six weeks and never went out the door because the police told me, don't come out this door <laugh>. You stay there and somebody will. And they did. The people that were taking care of me brought me food in the morning, food in the evening, and I stayed in my spot for six weeks. But they, they had it broke down and in such a chaotic way, but it was, I guess it's normal bureaucracy really for India, for us. It shorts you out. But, you know, I have to go to court on Wednesday and I go to court to check in. I'm here to, uh, maybe get some movement. And, and after the, on the second litigation, the Supreme Court Justice, uh, Abba <inaudible>, uh, from began flying and helping me and State Department was involved in getting him to, to do what he was doing. Speaker 3 00:40:56 I had to pay it all. But, uh, they, they were always in chaos. You could go to court, no court's closed. They don't tell me court's closed. They just let me do the three. Rick Shaws across Sary, show up at court and try to figure it out. The, the prosecuting attorney for the customs department that was the prosecutor against me the entire time would only come to court on Wednesday. And he had to come every Wednesday. I did, because he was court every day, but he only came to court if I paid him $50 us if I, I didn't give him $50 us when I would be stuck in the cage in the courtroom with the judge, and they'd call my name. He just wasn't there. So it cost me $50 a week for seven or six months or so just to get the prosecutor to come to court to try to send me away for seven years. Speaker 2 00:41:52 So detained for these many months with constantly shifting, uh, uh, uh, uh, suggestion of charges. But as you said, you were never even actually charged. And then you even have to pay out of your own pocket in order to get the prosecutor to show up and, and attempt to prosecute you so that you can kind of get some progress in this case. Um, I'm interested, uh, pastor in, um, a few more questions about what it was like for you personally. Uh, for instance, you know, if you have to go to court, I think you said every Wednesday, um, then, uh, you must have had a lot of downtime on your hands. Um, and I don't know what kind of facilities you had access to, if, if, if you even had a laptop or internet access or that kind of thing. Um, but, uh, you said at, at one point, uh, during this one six week period, you had people bringing in food, um, um, but in general, um, throughout, uh, your multi-month, uh, um, um, um, detention, um, what was your daily routine like? And, and also what, what did you have access to? Um, and, um, did you have any kind of a con of contact direct or, or otherwise with your family back home? Speaker 3 00:43:05 My, uh, first off, my friends from Nepal were there at the airport to pick me up when I didn't. When I got arrested, uh, one of five gentlemen was a constant roommate for the entire seven and a half months, uh, before I ever got outta jail. They had already made a promise to my wife. He'll never be left alone. We'll always be there. And they were always there. Now, they would go to court with me, but if they spoke up in court, they were quickly shut down and reminded they were foreigners also. Even though they looked the same and spoke the same, they were never allowed to be involved. Speaker 3 00:43:40 Uh, but my daily routine, I had good internet, uh, as good as there is in India where it works most of the time, if the power was on, it worked good, uh, which wasn't always on. But every morning, uh, for me, 12 hours change time difference between me and my family. So most mornings, uh, for my wife, uh, which was my evening, uh, we would call and I would listen to her cry for about an hour. What am I going to do? What's gonna happen? Where's it going on? Uh, I use the sentence all the time, you can't stop living because I'm gone. And later we wrote a book, and the name of the book is, you Can't Stop Living because I'm Gone because I said that so much. Speaker 2 00:44:25 I have, I have a copy of it right here. Speaker 3 00:44:27 Yeah. Well, thank you. And, uh, that, that's where that sentence came from, is from my conversations with my wife. But I generally talked to her. Uh, she was working, she worked hospital. And so I would get to spend about an hour with her every morning and every night, even though we were 12 hours apart in time. And if the internet was working, we got to, you know, use FaceTime and was able to see each other, uh, and talk to each other. From the time I got outta prison till the time I got home, I became a master barbecue watching a, uh, a YouTube show called, uh, meat Church. 'cause I had a lot of time all day, every day. I laid in the same bed for seven and a half months, uh, with somewhat good, uh, wifi signal. So I became a master barbecue watching Meat Church and other barbecue shows. Speaker 3 00:45:24 And I watched a whole lot of gardening shows and, uh, uh, Hollis and Nancy's homestead filled a lot of my day up. I read, uh, I read 32 books that I'd always meant to read. I got to spend more time praying than I ever imagined I would get to. Um, I read a lot about hoping that God was gonna bail me out and get me out, because I kept reminding him, God, the only reason I'm in trouble, it's you, you asked me to come. I'm here for you. I've only represented you. It's the only thing I do. I've never tried to do anything personally in Indiana, Nepal. Just God stuff that God asked me to do. And, uh, a lot of soul searching a lot, you know, and then a few people were brave enough to call me, uh, most people here, and I say that it's not that they didn't care, it's just, what do you say? You know, he's, he's arrested, he's in trouble. He is gotta be in pain. And are, Speaker 2 00:46:20 Are you still, are you still detained? Are you still not allowed to go out of your house? Are you, are you still, uh, isolated in this, in this small, little, little, uh, little hovel? Uh, yeah, yeah. At a certain point, it, it, I imagine it gets a little tiresome. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:46:35 And it's hard for them. It's, you know, so that didn't happen. But now in India, uh, and I only knew a few people and, uh, s great where I was being held at, I didn't know anybody. I had no connections of any kind to any church, to any group ever, because I would always just fly into there and then go up into the Himalayas and do the things that I did. Uh, but hundreds, hundreds of pastors, uh, Christian people would come by probably almost every day, sometimes twice a day. Somebody would show up and say, Hey, pastor, we heard about you being here and, and thank you for doing what you're doing, and we just wanted to pray with you. And some of 'em would bring food and, you know, so there was, there was a lot of really significant, uh, connections with people. Uh, I made personal friends with a lot of people that I'm still friends with. Speaker 3 00:47:26 Some of 'em I communicate with every two or three days every week. And it, the, the, the funny thing is <inaudible>, who was my lawyer that really did the most work in country for me, when he found out how that, uh, India was taking advantage of their own constitutional law, and he heard about it, he called me and he said, pastor, I don't know you. I'm never gonna like you. I don't want to like you. I'm never going to be your friend, and I certainly am not a Christian, but if you'll let me and use quite a bit of profanity with that, uh, I'll defend you and get you free. Because they're violating every law in India they can to do what they're doing to you. Um, and he and I still email every week. It's been four years now. I guess we made friends after all. Speaker 2 00:48:20 That's perhaps one of the best kinds of unexpected friendships is the one that starts out with, I never want to be your friend, and then you end up as, as such, anyways. Yeah. Well, well, one of my, one of my last questions about your experience is I remember, uh, hearing this from you. It was the first time I'd heard it from you when you spoke at this Indian Christian Indian American Christian Conference, um, last month. And you made mention of, uh, an experience that you had at some point. Uh, I don't remember exactly when during your detention, and you talked about how a gentleman, uh, that you, uh, believed, uh, was from, uh, the r s s and or the B J P, um, had shown up, uh, to, uh, confront you and, uh, said some not so nice things to you. Can you tell me a little bit about that experience? Um, h how, how did you know where this, where this guy was from? At what point did this happen, uh, during your detention? What did he say to you? Speaker 3 00:49:19 Oh, it, it was, um, timing wise, it's about the third, uh, probably February, right before President Trump comes to India. Um, I am, I'm a Rotarian and Rotary International was trying to help get me home from early on. Uh, the district governor and the, one of the local presidents of the in, of the Rotary Club in Ate came to see me. And he was a lawyer, he was a tax attorney, and became very helpful, became very good friends, and they worked really hard into talking to the judges and trying to get the whole thing to go away. They were unsuccessful when the Rotary Club president was getting ready to change to the new president, the previous president, which was very nice, helpful man, Hindu guy, uh, brought this other guy to meet me. And so I was hoping that here's another opportunity. Here's a way, you know, and my, I've got a bunch of phones, uh, pictures on my phone of these kids, you know, of 20, 30, 40, 50 kids with uniforms on, and we're putting 'em in school. Speaker 3 00:50:25 And it was a joint project between a c f and Rotary International. I thought he'd be impressed with that. I thought he'd make him happy. I thought he was, but it, it, it had just the opposite effect. He became very angry, very agitated, and he said, we're gonna send you to prison for seven years. And he said, I hope you die while you're in prison, because we're sick of you, Westerners, Christians coming in here and lying to our poor people and to our poor children. He said, none of us care about poor children. The best thing that could happen to poor children is that they would all die tonight so they could reincarnate to a better cast. And he said, what? You're gonna see this. We're putting you in prison for seven years, and before you get out of prison, India will become a Hindu only nation. Speaker 3 00:51:16 He said, what India needs to be successful and economic standpoint and a world leader, is we need the death of 330 million people. Now, that number didn't mean anything at the moment, but later it did. But he said, we need the death of 330 million people in India. He said, here's what you're gonna see. India's going to become a Hindu only nation. Every person in India will convert to Hinduism. They will, or they will leave the country, or we will eliminate them. What I would later find out is that the total population of Muslims in Indians, in India is 330 million people, he believes, and he told me that he was a member of the B J P and part of the ruling government, and part of it in Sary, uh, he said, he said, we're, we're going to eliminate everybody that's not Hindu, because this will be a Hindu nation only before you get out of prison. Speaker 2 00:52:21 Well, certainly being for myself quite familiar with the, the aspects, the facets of the international ideolog, um, that's something I've, I've been aware of that, that type of mentality. But, uh, that is the most shockingly overt, blatant, uh, open, um, confession of that coming from the lips of, of somebody that adheres to that ideology that I've, uh, I've ever heard of. That's, that's, uh, amazing and, uh, very disturbing. Now, Speaker 3 00:52:53 1, 1, 1, let me add one part to that. Uh, this gentleman was a very successful Brahman cast businessman. He was not a rebel rise. He wasn't somebody that got stirred up. He wasn't part of some offshoot group. He was a leading influential businessman in Sarye, India. Speaker 2 00:53:14 He wasn't uneducated or, or somebody, yeah, somebody Speaker 3 00:53:17 Highly indicated, very sophisticated, uh, wealthy, prominent man in the community. And I, I live in a little small community here, uh, Shelbyville, the city I live in has about 25,000 people, uh, <inaudible>, where I was arrested at is the same size as the town I live in. The difference is, is we have 25,000 and they have a little over 2 million. Speaker 2 00:53:45 Well, that's, uh, quite a difference in terms of, uh, people packed into a particular area of, uh, geographic area. Uh, and, you know, on the education point, I, I, I think that that's something that really a lot of people need to remember. I was just, uh, in a conversation that kind of took this direction, uh, yesterday, where somebody was suggesting that the solution, uh, to stopping, um, what's happening in India as far as the, the, the rise of this kind of, uh, poisonous, uh, hateful ideology, um, is, uh, probably going to be bound up in, in increased education. And yet, um, as I mentioned at the time, um, most of the people that I've encountered, both in America and, and in India, who are some of the biggest, um, most influential supporters of this ideology, and the movement, uh, that it's, that is, uh, driving are actually extremely educated people, engineers, doctors, et cetera. And that education certainly is, uh, um, in terms of when we look at historical examples of other extreme, uh, authoritarian, uh, genocidal, uh, movements that have, uh, risen and thank God fallen, um, that they rose oftentimes, uh, through the efforts, uh, and, and, and, and, and being driven by people of, of extremely high education. Speaker 3 00:55:14 That is right. Speaker 2 00:55:16 So Pastor, I wanted to ask you then, uh, coming to a conclusion about your experience there. As we, um, begin to wrap up and talk about what you've been doing since you got back to the us wanted to ask you, um, what happened, because the State Department, uh, as you talked about a little bit, they dragged their feet for a long time. You know, eight days in, I think you said something like that. Uh, representative from the State Department came and basically said, we're not gonna do anything for you. Uh, you're on your own. Um, I, I think I recall you saying something about four or five months in the State Department actually began taking some interest, but eventually, um, my understanding is that, uh, then, uh, uh, president Trump, uh, intervened directly and, and did, uh, took some kind of an action to secure your, your release. And so how did you actually end up getting out of all of this and, and coming home? Speaker 3 00:56:08 Uh, after the first three months where I adjudicated myself and was found innocent, and they refused to let me go, the State Department got involved. The ambassador got involved, and, uh, they sent the, the chief counsel from Dehi. It's a two hour flight to Sary where I was at. He came, interviewed me, and we began a very dynamic, great relationship of them doing what I wish they had done three months earlier. Uh, the gentleman they put in charge was excellent. He, I mean, he did, uh, above and beyond, uh, I had visitations from people they would want me to share, uh, to encourage me, to strengthen me, to let me know, you know, what was going on. They worked, uh, very closely with the American Center for Law and Justice, and that they're probably the most intricate part of the whole story of my freedom. Speaker 3 00:56:58 Uh, j Sicko is the president of American Center of Law and Justice. He was President Trump's attorney in one of his, uh, impeachment trials, and his executive, uh, lawyer by the name of CC Howell, called me as I talked to her the night I got out of the prison, and I either talked text or emailed with her every single day, seven days a week until she was standing there. When I got to the airport in Nashville, they went way beyond. I mean, every day she was talking to me and trying to keep me, uh, I, I told her, you kept me from falling off the edge a bunch of times because it, it, it, it is tough. It's difficult when you know you didn't do nothing wrong and there's nothing you can do about it. Uh, but they put a lot of pressure on the State Department, especially on senators and congressmen. Speaker 3 00:57:49 And of course, that's what they do in DC as lobbyists. And they kept working and pushing, uh, five different times there was plans put together to bring me home. One of 'em in the middle of all of that was when President Trump flew to India for his first state visit to India. Uh, they took me to the border. I was standing at the border next to the security, the, the customs guy holding my passport. I signed all the documents to be released into Nepal to come home. And at the last minute, the phone rang and told him to take me back, not to release me. And President Trump landed in India about 30 minutes later. So it was all highs orchestrated government. Um, and one of the things that Abba Char told me a couple of months in, he says, pastor, he said, we're gonna work to get you home, but you need to know that your first three months was about laws and not going by home in India. Speaker 3 00:58:48 He said, you're a political prisoner. Now. This is all political and it'll all be political from here on out. Um, president Trump had given the State Department a directive. I don't want the pastor in India when I get there because I don't wanna have to have any conversations about religious freedom. He just wanted to come and do what it did. And the guy from the State Department was very honest. Uh, he called me before I met him at the airport to go to the border. He said, you need to understand that the president's coming to do a $14 billion arms deal. You're totally expendable if you get in the way of this deal coming through. He said, he's gonna let you go to prison, and once they take you to prison, you're there for seven years and we can't get you out. And so that was the tension. Speaker 3 00:59:38 And, and that was going on. Um, they took me back when we were driving back, it's about an hour back to where I was staying from the border. Uh, one of the, one of the officials of India called my, uh, guy from the consulate and told him, he said, Judith, tell your president that we still run Indian. We really don't care what he thinks. And so that was that big power play. Well, after I, I came home, I got the opportunity to go to the White House. Uh, president Trump invited me and my wife for a weekend, and we went and, Speaker 2 01:00:10 And, and when exactly did you actually get back to the us? Speaker 3 01:00:14 Uh, I came back on May the 19th, may, I'm sorry, May 17th, 2020. So I came home in the height of the Covid thing, uh, and the height of an election that was going on, because election was gonna be in November. And part of what I did when I was at the White House is shoot a promotional video. If you look at the national, uh, Republican National Convention, I'm that first interview primetime first night. But, uh, he invited us there to the White House, and he explained it to me when we was having a conversation. He said, on April, the first, I called Prime Minister Modi. And I told him, I'm through. It's enough. It's time to send the pastor home. You're not holding him for any real reason other than you're just holding him. And he said, if you do not release him tomorrow, I will embarrass you internationally. Speaker 3 01:01:09 Uh, the next day I got a call from the ambassador, uh, from Deli. He said, they've got a deal that's gonna work this time. I was skeptical. I didn't believe it 'cause I'd had so many bad deals, but in the end, I had no options. So I took the deal and, uh, it still took 'em six weeks from the day we made the deal until I got on the airplane back to New York. But I was supposedly free through all of that time of Covid, and it was all covid locked down anyhow. But President Trump personally interceded on my behalf. And that's from his own language. That's from his mouth. You know, that's not a hearsay thing. That's what he told me. And so he, he, he secured my freedom after all that time. Well, Speaker 2 01:01:53 After those seven and a half months there. And especially with everything being so unpredictable, you said five times you expected to come home and you kept getting the, the rug torn out from underneath you. The, the, the, the hope, I'm sure, uh, um, um, dashed to an extent. Um, once you got back, I'm sure it must have been quite an adjustment period. I mean, I imagine this is the, uh, from what you've told me of your life story, your first time, uh, facing, uh, incarceration and at that in a, in a foreign country, um, not even not even being charged throughout the entire experience, but once you returned home, um, you re you reunited with your family. I'm, I'm sure it must have been a bit of an adjustment period. Um, I would love to hear a little bit about that. But I'd also, um, in addition to that, really like to hear a little bit about, because you said at the outset that you went there and you've been paying attention to the situation in general in, in Nepal. Speaker 2 01:02:50 But when it came to India, uh, you were pretty much blindsided by the political situation. Well, after those seven and a half months I mentioned, that must have been quite the crash course, uh, in the political scenario, uh, currently unfolding in that country. And so upon returning, uh, here, your homecoming, um, what did that change, uh, for you as far as, um, now knowing quite a bit more than you knew before about the situation over there politically? What did that change for you, um, back here as far as your engagement, um, with, uh, for instance, the Indian American, um, community and, uh, these kinds of issues related to what's, uh, going on in India? Speaker 3 01:03:34 Uh, the, the homecoming was spectacular. We were under Covid shutdown in the Nashville International Airport, allowed a couple hundred people to show up with t-shirts on to welcome me home. Uh, which everybody was amazed by. But to be able to hug my grandkids again, hug my wife and family, and to be home was overwhelming emotionally. Uh, next week we took a week off and went on vacation and the family, and we just went to the mountains and stayed in one, uh, cabin together because nothing else was legally permissive because of covid. And, uh, we, we just spent time together and got reoriented and connected. Um, even now, it's been almost four years. October be four years, my family's still waiting for me to have that weird thing happen. You know, I I I was supposed to go into depression or have a nervous breakdown or lash out, and so far, none of that's happened. Speaker 3 01:04:30 I came back and really after that first week, kicked right back into my normal life the way I have always lived, with the exception of what you pointed out. Um, I, I, I was very aware because of having good internet, I knew everything about the Indian government. There was between council and people and interview for people and the internet. I was very aware of the change of the government and the things that was going on. And it has become extremely, progressively worse than it was four years ago. Uh, I've become a very, uh, I'm, as an active of an advocate for Indian Christians is I can be. I never miss a chance. Uh, I travel, uh, I've been traveling, uh, to church, Indian churches, to Indian groups, places that we've met together, uh, to do anything I can to tell my story, to bring a awareness to so many people, especially to the American Christian Church. Speaker 3 01:05:28 But I'm not having any luck at getting into the American Christian Church. They're focused on things other than the plight of India. But I do travel to a lot of Indian Christian churches, and they are not aware of how bad it is in India, even though it's their homeland. That's where they're from. Most, most of your Indian American Christians that are in the United States, um, they, they love their homeland. They love their heritage, they love their family, and they hope they never have to go back to India for a single day because it's so bad. It's so difficult. And so they, they lose what's going on. They lose, you know, they fall. India falls off their radar. So I'm trying to help that and work that. Uh, pick con contacted me. John <inaudible> contacted me just in a month or two after coming back, didn't know him, uh, asked me if I would come to a board meeting. I got, uh, involved with Fiona. Uh, I regularly travel on their behalf. Speak Speaker 2 01:06:25 Just for, just for our listeners. Fiona is the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America. It's the largest, uh, Indian American Christian, um, umbrella group, uh, in, in the us Speaker 3 01:06:38 Right. And I, I'm very active as a spokesman, as a fundraiser in any way I can to help them lobby and do the work that has to be done in, in Washington d c Uh, I've traveled to dc I've been to the, to the, uh, Russell building, the Hart building, uh, the Rayburn building, uh, and done press releases and met with senators Congressman as Speaker 2 01:07:02 You, as you've been doing that. Um, sorry to interject, but I, I, I want to get some, um, clarification on, on your perspective on that. Uh, you've been doing this work engaging, uh, in DC on the hill, uh, you just said members of, of, uh, house of Reps, members of, of the Senate. What is your impression so far of, of how they're reacting to, um, this information? Um, are, are any of them interested in what's going on? Are any of them concerned about what's going on? And, uh, from my perspective, um, I, I think probably a shared perspective, but I don't wanna put words in your mouth. Um, the US government in general, and I would say this is just as much, uh, the case under, under Trump, under, as it is, under Biden, just as much under Biden as it was under Trump. Um, it hasn't really shifted much with either, either administration. Um, it's the, the US government seems to be almost completely silent, uh, on, on these issues, completely unwilling to speak. So as far as your personal engagement, what's the response been? And and why do you think the US government is so, uh, quiet and reluctant to shy to talk about this? Speaker 3 01:08:09 It'll be kind of a strong statement, but the, the individuals that I've met, senators, congresspeople and, and lobbyists and whoever, all have a genuine heart for the suffering of the people that are suffering in India, they generally care, but they all say exactly the same thing. We cannot afford to be the person who steps out first or speaks out first, because there is so much money that this government in India is begging to give away. And America needs to get as much of it as they can. And that's pretty much the history of the United States of America. We will go to bed with almost anybody if we think there's a financial gain, even though there's a loss of life. Our government has lots of fancy stories, but we were early supporters of Hitler. We created Paul Pott, we created e diamine, we created Manuel Noriega, how many genocidal maniacs that we helped Speaker 2 01:09:18 Create, sit on the machine out. Speaker 3 01:09:21 We created them all the United States government, not intentionally, probably, but have created every genocidal maniac and American history because of greed and money. And it's like, we we're not for it, but we're not gonna speak out against it. And that is the, the, the official line of so far, everybody I've had the privilege and honor to speak to in Washington DC it needs to be done. We are sorry for what's happening to the people, but I'm not the guy that's gonna speak out first, or I'm not the woman that's gonna speak out first. And so, uh, one thing I learned about being, uh, locked up for a long time in India and working with the government is the government will say the right thing and they'll open in sentence, but they'll never do the right thing until you completely wear 'em down. President Trump said, I decided, my staff told me, and this is a day or two before April the first, he said, my staff told me, Brian, that when they came to work last Monday, there was 2000 letters in our mailbox from people wanting you to come home. And they told me, you've got to do something because this man's support base is shutting our communication system down between phones and mail. American Center of Law and Justice had a petition that had 230,000 people sign on my behalf. Speaker 3 01:10:53 Anything that happens with government, the United States government will only happen. They know, already know what to do. They know what's the right direction, that there's not a knowledge problem or an education problem. It's just they have to wear 'em out and break 'em down through talk and talk and talk and negotiation. And you finally find a leverage point where they need something. You got, so they give you something. They got, I think they call it diplomacy <laugh>. Speaker 2 01:11:22 So moving, moving to a close. And I mean, with your engagement there, with, with the, uh, political system, I suppose it comes as no shock, uh, here in the us. The, uh, it sounds like you're encountering a lot of, uh, profit over principle to use that age, age old cliche. Yeah. And a lot of people that, um, they, you know, as you said, they're, they're already in the know. They, they have the knowledge base, and there's, there's not a gap there. And even on principle, um, their hearts are with the suffering, but none of 'em want to be the first ones to really stick their neck out and be, be the ones to begin rocking the boat. But when it comes to applying pressure and, uh, as a solution to getting, uh, this, uh, administration or any administration to take some kind of, of an action, or even just, you know, like one member of Congress, um, the example of the 2000 letters, the 230,000 sig signatures on this petition, you know, that certainly, uh, um, beyond, uh, now that, uh, this issue of your detention is, is, is, uh, been solved, thank God. Speaker 2 01:12:25 And, and there's a broader big picture issue to deal with, to grapple with. There's, there's escalating persecution of Christians in India. Um, in order to move the needle and get the us uh, government or even just one member of Congress willing to take some kind of an action, uh, that pressure could be applied via similar methods. And certainly here in the us, um, one of the best, um, most potentially beneficial, um, um, um, uh, entities or institutions, uh, from, from which that pressure could come, would be, would be the American church, which could be applying that pressure with these kinds of letter writing campaigns or, or petitions or, you know, sitting down with, with members of Congress, which many of these, uh, many of these clergy members, for instance, actually have the political poll to call up a member of Congress and, and, and arrange a sit down meeting. Speaker 2 01:13:29 Kind of wrapping up, uh, ultimately with, with, with this, um, you said that you've been engaging a lot, um, with the Indian American Christian community, and you've tried to engage with, with the American Christian community, but they don't seem to be terribly interested. Why do you think that they're not interested? Um, and, and, and what do you think can be done? Obviously, um, in, in my opinion, um, the best way to go about these things is to take, obviously, start small, starts somewhere, think, uh, think global, and act local, as they say. And so, uh, the ultimate, uh, or the initial goals are not to, not to get every single church in America taking action, but even a few. And, um, I can count on, on, on one hand, um, you know, as somebody that has been in this field for a decade and a half, um, and who, you know, uh, well, um, acquainted with the American, uh, non-Indian, uh, Christian community growing up in it, I can count on, on one hand the number of of pastors priests, uh, that I personally know or know of who are active and vocal on these issues. Speaker 2 01:14:42 There's maybe three or four of 'em. And, and, and that includes yourself, and that includes my own, my own personal priests who's only vocal on these issues because he met me. So what, why do you think it is that it's so difficult, uh, to get the American church to pay some kind of an attention to these issues, especially considering how much influence they could have in, in moving the needle on, on, on, um, making an impact. Um, and, and what do you think could be done, um, that might not already be being done, be being done in order to get them to, uh, uh, swing into action? Speaker 3 01:15:19 I don't know the answer to that one. Uh, I, I'm interested in it. Uh, last month I sent 50 copies of my book with a letter, a short letter that said, please say something, do something today to the 50 top megachurches in America. I've gotten one thank you card from one pastor that said, I'm not likely to be engaged. So I don't know the answer. I don't know the question. I do, I do. Maybe I really do know the answer. Uh, anytime you talk to a Christian, they, they lead into it, especially a pastor with the words, I'm gonna pray about it. Now, I'm a pastor. In most pastor's world, that's code. When a pastor tells you I'm gonna pray about it, that means you're never going to get any results from it at all. They're gonna just give it to God and let go of it. Speaker 3 01:16:13 Uh, but that's still the most effective, powerful answer to your question. If the American Christian Church would pray about freedom in India the way that they prayed 50 years ago, for missionaries to go there and build the Christian community and win the lost, you see, the missionary, the missionary mindset of the American church today doesn't exist. The average American Christian Church invest 0.02% of their annual income commissions 0.2%, not even 1%. Only a quarter of a percent of the normal churches income is spent on helping those that have less, I guess the church is turned into a business just like the United States government. It doesn't hit the bottom line. We got other things to work on. Speaker 2 01:17:19 Well, the most powerful thing that one can do about it, uh, as you, as you just said, is, is, is to pray, uh, at least. Um, and certainly it's difficult to pray about something when, when you don't even know it's happening. So I certainly, uh, pray, um, of course for the church in America to be, to be, uh, willing, uh, to take action on these issues, but also to be willing, uh, and, and, uh, to be found available, to be educated and, and, and, and grow informed about these issues. Because in my experience, they're, they're sadly very, very ignorant, um, uh, uh, about, about this. But thank God, uh, there are, um, uh, few, uh, pastors, few members of the clergy, few, um, few members of the laity, uh, who are passionate, whose, whose hearts are, are swayed, that this is the right thing, that, uh, the, the, this is God's calling, uh, God's demand, demanding God's obligation placed on us as Christians, that we have to, uh, pay attention to, uh, pray about, be concerned about these issues. Um, and, um, certainly I, I, uh, admire you, uh, pastor for, uh, uh, going through this, uh, experience and coming back. Um, and instead of, uh, doing what you could be doing and just going out fishing every day, or I don't know exactly what you all like doing down there in Tennessee, I know there's a lot of snake handling that, uh, that happens. Um, but whatever other pastime you, you, you might have, Speaker 3 01:18:46 That's a great pleasure Speaker 2 01:18:47 Yourself. Speaker 3 01:18:49 It's a great pleasure. You know what I, we enjoy doing. We enjoy barbecue and gardening, and I'm a master at both of 'em, thanks to my sabbatical in India. So <laugh> Speaker 2 01:19:00 Barbecue and gardening, and then, and then, uh, taking up this cause which, uh, uh, you didn't have to take up, which is now talking as much as you can about the, the persecution that's ongoing against Christians and, and other minorities and, uh, in India. And so, um, any final thoughts, uh, pastor Brian? Speaker 3 01:19:20 Yeah, there is, uh, and you and I haven't talked about this, but there's probably a shared fantasy dream that you and I would both have, uh, the easiest, most effective way that you or I, either one could reach the American Christian Church in America with, to begin a five minute interview on Fox News. Fox News has more evangelical swing and power on the American Christian Church than any denomination that's Christian. Now, that's a personal thing. I think you would get excited about it too. If I could just get five minutes to do an interview with anybody on Fox News about any of this. We could reach thousands and thousands of Christians so they'd at least know what was going on. So if anybody happens to listen to your webcast, that would give one of us a shot. Somehow we can at least get the word out. Speaker 2 01:20:20 That's a goal to angle for. And, um, I have, uh, already in my head a short little script of what I might say. I think you probably have the same, uh, pastor Brian Na, Naren Maren, Maren Speaker 3 01:20:34 Naren, just easiest with Speaker 2 01:20:35 Yeah, with that, with that southern draw in there. Thank you so much, uh, for your time. Uh, look forward to meeting you again, uh, hopefully breaking bread again soon. And, uh, thank you. Speaker 3 01:20:46 We'll, thank you for this opportunity, Peter. Speaker 0 01:20:48 Thank you for tuning in. 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