Christians attacked in Orissa — again

By July 3, 2009

India (MNN) — It's been almost a year since mobs of Hindu nationalists attacked Christians in Orissa, India. Now it may be happening again.

Gospel for Asia reports that a group of believers in Orissa, India, was attacked on June 30 by 40-50 weapon-toting individuals after refusing to participate in a Hindu festival. Villagers demanded that the Christians make donations and cooperate in the festival.

GFA's Daniel Punnose says the response of Christians wasn't taken well. "They said, 'No, we don't want to have anything to do with it. We'll just stay at home.' The mob then began to break open the door and break the windows; they went inside and beat three of our believers. They were actually looking for our pastor to kill him." However, the believers kept him hidden. Three Christians–Shivnath, Etua and his wife Jayamanti–were seriously injured and taken to the hospital in critical condition.

The police were informed and took immediate action to stop the violence. Upon arriving at the scene, the police protected the believers from more attacks and tried to calm the mob, but their presence didn't stop the attackers from demanding that Pastor Rajat be handed over to them.

The police are struggling for reconciliation between the villagers and the Christians, but the villagers refuse to cooperate until Pastor Rajat is banished from the village.

Punnose says while persecution isn't unusual in India, "It's kind of surprising that this kind of persecution is happening this soon after the major persecution a year ago."

While the central government is pushing laws to protect religious minorities, Punnose says, "Wherever the Gospel goes, there is going to be persecution, no matter what laws are passed or not passed. So, some of the laws that will be passed will help to give a little bit more protection to believers and freedom to worship. But at the same time, all of these believers expect persecution to happen. They're willing to give their lives."

Pastor Rajat started his ministry in this village six years ago. 80 believers now gather in a temporary church building to worship the Lord under his leadership. New believers are being added to their numbers every month.

Punnose says that seems to follow the persecution trail. "Any time persecution happens, the church grows much faster and the believers get much stronger. Those who are doing the persecuting cannot understand why the church continues to grow. When believers see the church growing, they get excited."

Please pray for protection over Pastor Rajat and the believers of this village. Pray also for a peaceful solution and for God to open the villagers' eyes to see the worthlessness of their gods. Pray that they will turn to the one, true God–Jesus Christ.

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