India (MNN) ― A radical Hindu movement says it will hold a rally in Kandahamal district on Christmas Day, in the same area as the anti-Christian 2007 pogrom in Orissa.
We spoke with "Don" (name changed for security reasons), a partner of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India, to get his take on how Christians will be marking Christmas under the threat of violence. "Threats are still being made, and they have to be a lot more careful in the expression of their faith."
The Council of Christians says that alarm is spreading amongst the Christians. Don says even before this latest threat, there were security concerns. "Many of the believers that lived in the area have not returned to that district and have scattered. Others that have returned are much more cautious."
The specter raised by this latest threat brings back the horror of an episode that had no precedent in Indian history. The deadly anti-Christian violence destroyed hundreds of homes, 115 churches, and displaced hundreds of thousands.
Entering the last few days of the Advent season and looking ahead to the Christmas celebration, how are Mission India partners preparing for the threat of violence? Don says rather than go with a security strategy or tone down their message, they look at Scripture for guidance. "Jesus said ‘Persecution is going to come.' One of the greatest ways that we can help our brothers and sisters in Christ who face this is to teach what Jesus had to say."
Mission India partners expect persecution. That will likely be even more true as believers continue to follow Christ. Adverse reaction to the message of Christ will continue. There are anti-conversion laws in force in five states (Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat), with two states awaiting implementation (Arunachal Pradesh and Rajasthan), and one state (Karnataka) considering a law.
Despite all of this, the Body of Christ throughout India continues to flourish. "We look back at the work that we've done, the number of people that have come to Christ, and the number of churches that have yet to be started, and it continues at about the same pace." Don adds, "We find believers continuing to share their faith. They really can't keep quiet."
There are scattered reports of attacks that have been going on all month. Justice from the 2007 pogrom has been slow. Don says the Church needs to stand together in solidarity. "We need to pray that the national government would have courage to see that the law is upheld, and those that violate the law are prosecuted. Secondly, pray that God would strengthen our brothers and sisters and give them courage to remain true to their faith."