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Christian Persecution Update in India!

Posted by Scott on October 2, 2008

 

Three More Christians Killed in Orissa; Opposition Reported in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar

Thousands of Christians, like this woman, were made homeless by attacks led by Hindu extremists in Orissa, India.

Three more believers were martyred and twelve others were severely wounded in a fresh wave of violence in Orissa, India, on September 30. The latest attacks occurred in villages near Kandhamal, which has been the epicenter of violence against Christians since August 22.

The violence in Orissa came as attacks in two other Indian states targeted a Christian pastor and a Bridge of Hope center.

An estimated 30 Christians have been killed and thousands of others have lost their homes since Hindu extremists went on a rampage after their leader, Swami Laxmananda Saraswati was murdered. His followers are seeking revenge for his death, for which Christians have been blamed. However, Maoists have claimed responsibility for the murder.

A Gospel for Asia correspondent in Orissa said Tuesday’s attacks came at 4:30 a.m. when mobs of as many as 5,000 Hindu extremists attacked three separate villages. The extremists burned down about 150 homes and three churches. The Indian media reports that police opened fire in an attempt to disperse the violent forces.

The mob also reportedly attacked the local police station, demanding that two people arrested in connection with the ongoing riots be released. Media reports from within the country also indicate that the extremists have blocked all roads in and out of the area of the attack with rocks and boulders to prevent police from bringing in additional forces.

Since the violence began August 22, six people who attended GFA-related churches in Orissa have been killed by the Hindu extremists, who have personally attacked more than 2,000 believers from these churches. The extremists have also burned down 630 homes belonging to believers who attend GFA-related churches and destroyed 22 churches where GFA missionaries serve as pastors.

Many Christians are still hiding out in the dense jungles surrounding their villages. They are suffering from the effects of starvation, disease and monsoon flooding that wrecked the state in September.

With the continued violence and the roads blocked, it is impossible for GFA Compassion Services teams to get into Orissa to distribute aid.

Missionary Beaten in Uttar Pradesh

Gospel for Asia missionaries are also dealing with persecution in Uttar Pradesh, where Hindu extremists have attacked a pastor and have set their sights on a Bridge of Hope center.

On October 1, the extremists attacked a Bridge of Hope center and a church in Magapatti, Uttar Pradesh. The pastor of the church, who is a GFA missionary, was badly beaten in the attacks.

Hindu extremists continue their campaign to obliterate Christians in Orissa, India. On Tuesday, they destroyed another 150 homes like this one, along with three churches.

The extremists have been systematically threatening the parents of the children in the Bridge of Hope center for the past few weeks. The center was closed as a precaution and no children were on site when the extremists attacked the missionary.

Christian Aid Workers Forced Out of Bihar

Another gang of anti-Christian extremists forced out Christian aid workers attempting to help survivors of flooding in Bihar. The incident occurred on September 25 in the state’s Purnia district where aid workers were assessing needs and handing out cards for people to exchange for supplies. The group was planning to help at least 2,500 families.

The extremists accused the group of taking advantage of the situation to lure the people into Christianity by offering relief materials.

The aid workers, who have been in Bihar since September 1, were able to move their base to another area and continue operations.

GFA missionaries in the affected areas shared the following prayer requests:

  • Please pray for the families of those killed in Orissa, that they would be comforted by the Word of God and that they would remain strong in the midst of intense persecution.
  • Pray for those wounded in Tuesday’s attacks. Several of them have life-threatening injuries and are not expected to live. Pray for their healing and that it would be a testimony of God’s glory.
  • Pray for the people hiding in the jungles and those living in relief camps. Pray especially that God would provide a way for Compassion Services teams to reach them.
  • Pray for healing for the missionary in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Pray that the Bridge of Hope center in that community would be able to reopen and that the children could go to school without fear.
  • Pray for the many Christian organizations attempting to distribute relief supplies in Bihar.
  • Pray for the extremist and militant groups who are opposing the Gospel to come to know Jesus as their Savior.

Orissa News and Media Updates


PhotoShow: Orissa in Ruins

PhotoShow: Persecution In Pictures

Persecution Update: September 15, 2008

Video Update: August 28, 2008

Download Videos

Message from Orissa: “God is in Control”

posted: 09/05/2008

Juria Bardhan, Gospel for Asia’s Orissa State Leader

Juria Bardhan, Gospel for Asia’s state leader in Orissa, India, knows what it’s like to be hunted by anti-Christian extremists bent on killing him. During the past two weeks, he has seen dozens of churches burned to the ground. He has seen missionaries and Christians beaten and killed. But during all these horrific attacks, Juria has had one thought.

“We know the Lord is in control,” Juria said in an interview Thursday.

Juria’s comments may sound naïve to Western ears, but to Christians in volatile parts of Asia, they ring true. They expect persecution rather than peace. They know that to follow Christ means choosing to bring more trouble into their lives. They also know that Christians standing strong in the face of such trials encourages others to follow Christ.

“The encouraging thing is that the attackers themselves acknowledge that Orissa used to be only 2 percent Christian, and now it’s 28 percent Christian,” Juria said. “They don’t understand that by doing this, the church will grow by leaps and bounds, and this will cause thousands to come to Christ.”

Juria said his pastors are not complaining about the abuse heaped upon them. Instead they are glorifying God for the opportunity to share in His sufferings.

“Many of our pastors have said, ‘Even if they kill us, no problem. This will cause thousands to come to Christ,’ ” he reported.

Juria said that things are improving somewhat in the cities, but the persecution continues unabated in more remote areas. Orissan Christians are accustomed to harassment, but Juria noted that this wave of attacks, which began August 22 after the murder of a popular Hindu leader, is different.

“Last time, the persecution was restricted to only one district. During the last six months, they planned this out, and now nine districts are under attack,” he noted.

Juria reports that six people have been killed, and 27 GFA-related churches and more than 800 homes of Christians have been ransacked and destroyed since the violence began.

At least 24 Gospel for Asia missionaries have been attacked, some joining the thousands of Christians who are seeking refuge in the forests, where they remain without adequate food or shelter.

Juria said that the Hindu extremists have made a list of demands, including:

  • Stop conversions … They accuse Christian missionaries of forcing people to convert to Christianity or using false allurements, such as money or jobs, to get them to follow Christ.
  • No more slaughtering of cows … Cows are considered holy in the Hindu religion.
  • All church buildings should be verified … The extremists want to place additional restrictions on Christian churches that do no exist for Hindu temples.
  • Christian churches and related non-governmental (charitable) organizations should be banned … This would prevent any Christian work that helps the poor.
  • Anyone occupying tribal land must vacate it … Most Orissan Christians are from low castes and live on tribal land that was settled generations ago. This would essentially force all Christians to move out of the area.

The extremists are also on a campaign to “reconvert” Christians back to Hinduism. They are threatening people at knifepoint, saying they will die if they do not agree to offer pujas (prayers and ceremonial acts) to Hindu gods and goddesses.

One missionary was attacked and threatened unless he performed a puja. He refused to turn his back on Christ, so they beat him again and told him to stay away from the village where he had been working, but he would not agree to do this.

“Even if you kill me, I will not make a vow that I will never come back; that depends not on me but on the Lord. If he wants to send me here, then I will come,” he told his attackers.

He was discouraged when he saw some of the same people he had prayed for and helped in the past now ready to kill him. But his life was spared when an elderly villager, seeing his strong commitment, convinced the mob to let him go.

One Christian who attends a GFA-related church gave his life rather than turn his back on Christ. The extremists were trying to get him to participate in a Hindu ceremony that involved shaving his head, putting cow dung on it and then sacrificing a goat. When he refused, he was killed and his body hacked into pieces.

Juria reports that the extremists are now using women to lead the Hindu mobs. They believe that if a woman is in front, the government will not take action against them. Several of these mobs of women have even caused disruptions in some of the relief camps.

Juria does not expect the volatile situation in Orissa to change anytime soon. He theorizes that the extremists will continue the campaign of terror and religious emotion until the next general election. There are several powerful Hindu political parties in the country. Juria says they may be trying to exploit the fear of the people to get into power. There is also a rumor that the extremists are planning to carry the ashes of the murdered leader, along with his photo, to villages throughout the country. They hope that the emotional response will cause another round of unrest.

He asks that Christians would continue praying for Orissa. Here are some of the specific requests.

  • Pray for peace and harmony in Orissa and that families will be able to return to their villages.
  • Pray for relief work to go on unhindered.
  • Pray for the health, safety and security of the people living in the forests.
  • Ask the Lord for mercy in providing new homes for the people who have lost theirs.
  • Continue to lift up the missionaries who are obvious targets of the persecutors. The extremists are looking for what they consider to be a high-ranking Christian leader to kill in revenge for the death of their leader.
  • Pray that the Christians will remain firm in their faith and that their commitment to Jesus will remain stronger than any fear they have.
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3 Responses to “Christian Persecution Update in India!”

  1. tharian m kurian said

    dear brother Scott,
    christians in india undergoing through a hard time. faith put in fire test. all christians in many parts of india is under unsafety. i have close relatives and friends working in these violent areas like ,orissa, U P, M P etc as catholic priests and nuns as catholic missonaries from the Indian state of Kerala. many are having terrifying experience of attack. their schools are demolished, churches are burned, one nun raped by many activists, another nun died after hiding in the jungles for many days and caught Malaria deseas and later died after a week or so in the hospital.
    Dears, now as an Indian let me ask u all to pray very specially for the victims, those who are in these places. due to the political back ground the nearing parliament election political parties are gathering votes from christian blood and tears.Until the election many will try to create the echoes of christian cries and weeping in many areas to gather votes.May LORD be with our brotheren there in this testing time. Let us pray hearts,minds and hands joined together for them….
    tharian m kurian
    04.oct.2008

  2. Scott said

    Bro Tharian,

    What is going on in India is just horrible, however, it is strengthening the body of Christ. My church here in the states, Stonebriar Community Church, is involved deeply in mission work in several other cities in India. We have built numerous churches, a seminary, and housing in India. Each year we provide bicycles and clothing for the Bible students in the seminary there and pastors and such in the churches. We received numerous updates weekly about what has been going on in Orissa. On a yearly basis our mission team from the church visit the areas we are involved in and report back to us. So far, the persecution of this magnitude has not reached these areas, but they very well could.

    The Bible tells us that the body of Christ will suffer for His sake, so this really should not be shock to us, but it can catch us off guard at times. From what I am hearing and reading this persecution is doing nothing more than strengthening the believers in Christ and bringing more into Christianity.

    So, we will certainly pray for all those living and struggling to keep the faith under such horrifying persecution. Also, we will pray for your family and friends in that region as well.

    Keep the faith and blessings to you and your lovely family.

    Pressing on in Christ,
    Scott

  3. […] Update: The Night of the Persecuted Church that focused on Ethipia was actually two years ago. We will do another one this March, probably focused on what’s going on in India. […]

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