‘Frustrated’ CEO explains how shutdown of 589 centers serving 145,000 children will affect staff, sponsors, and churches.

In two weeks, Compassion International will be out of India.

The child development ministry confirmed today that after 48 years, its final day of operation will be March 15.

That means shutting the doors of 589 Indian-staffed development centers caring for more than 145,000 children, more than any other of the 25 countries where it works.

“I feel frustrated,” president and CEO Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado told CT.

That’s because Compassion has worked every angle to try to stay open in India since last February, when India’s Ministry of Home Affairs put it on a list of organizations needing prior approval before transferring funds into the country. Then the government refused to grant such approval.

The government’s move can be traced back to 2011, when it changed its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act so that it could regulate NGOs it disagrees with philosophically, Mellado said. The move was seen by many as another step toward Hindu nationalism since 2014.

Since then, attacks on Christians and Muslims have increased. India is now No. 15 on Open Doors’ list of countries where it’s hardest to be a Christian, up from No. 31 in 2013.

“In the middle of all this, we were pouring significant resources into local evangelical Christian churches,” Mellado said. “You can see where we would hit the radar screen.”

Compassion channels about $45 million into the country every year, more than any other charity. And unlike World Vision, which also helps children in India but breaks up its funding across different humanitarian entities, Compassion’s donations all went to local churches through two offices, making the amount stand out.

Increasingly desperate to be able …

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