Foreign missionary restrained from preaching

Thiruvananthapuram, India - Invoking visa norms, Kerala police on Monday restrained Ghana-based Christian missionary Bernard Blessing from religious preaching at a gospel convention organised by Pentecostal Church in Thiruvanantapuram.

Blessing, who was to address the three-day "Power Conference organised by Pentecostal groups, had come to India on an x-visa, also called an entry visa. "It (x-visa) does not confer on the holder any right to make religious preaching,'' Thiruvananthapuram police commissioner M R Ajith Kumar said.

"However, he was free to attend the event and do lawful things other than preaching,'' he said. Blessing attended the event which started on Monday and sang along with the crowd. He, however, did not make any speech.

The police action came after Hindu outfits quoted advertisements released in Blessing's name which read, "A harvester for the Lord Jesus Christ... Experience Jesus, Transform Kerala''. They alleged Blessing would be violating visa norms. Not wanting to take chances, the cops issued notice to the organisers asking them to stick to rules.

The organisers, however, claimed Blessing had attended a similar event in Kochi last year and at that time police had raised no objection. They denied that the convention was aimed at converting people to Christianity. Blessing is the president of Rescue Life International, a ministry based in Accra, Ghana.