India (MNN) — Persecution against Christians in India has taken a turn for the worse.
President and Founder of Gospel for Asia KP Yohannan is calling it the most outrageous killing and burning spree he has seen to date. "So far, more than 130 homes of our believers have been complete destroyed — burned down. 15 churches were destroyed. One of our churches — they bombed it. Six of our workers and believers were brutally murdered."
A few were beaten up and burned alive, while others were dismembered. "It's been one of the most difficult and painful times in the history of our work," says Yohannan.
Orissa is the same state where missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were burned alive in their car in 1999. Yohannan says, "Orissa is one of the most unreached regions in the entire subcontinent of India."
A dejected Yohannan says the radical Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), or the World Hindu Council, is responsible. "This is the Taliban in Hinduism. These people believe India must be a Hindu nation. All else must go. It's kind of an ethnic cleansing they are after."
The violence started when a well-know Swami was murdered by communists in Orissa. Yohannan says the VHP put a spin on the murder. "The fundamentalists decided, 'no, it was the Christians that did it,' and so persecution broke out, and it continues."
Similar persecution took place in December, forcing thousands from their homes. It's uncertain if the central government will do anything to quell the violence.
Yohannan says many people are turning to Christ in Orrisa, which is why the state passed anti-conversion legislation. He says, "A non-Christian cannot become a Christian unless they get permission from the government. If they try to get baptized without that permission, they can go to jail for a number of years. The anti-Christian sentiment and opposition is very severe."
Yohannan is encouraging you to pray and do a few things.
First, contact your political representatives to voice support for Christians in Orissa.
Secondly, GFA needs funding to help Christians who have been forced from their homes. "Literally thousands of Christians are stranded. And they are hiding and running for their lives. And our own Bridge of Hope Centers — caring for thousands of children — are shut down in many places because of opposition." Thousands of dollars will be needed to help rebuild house and churches there.
Thirdly, Yohannan would like you to fast and pray for the situation in Orissa State.