India (MNN) — Curfews have been imposed in four districts in the Indian state of Orissa after rioters attacked churches, police stations and homes. The violence started over Christmas decorations. Officials in Orissa say hundreds of armed security personnel have been sent to the tribal-dominated Kandhamal district, following a rampage that saw the torching of churches, attacks on police and offices of charitable organizations. At least one person was killed in the violence.
President and Founder of Gospel for Asia KP Yahannan says Orissa has been notorious for one thing. "This is one of the most anti-Christian states in the sense of persecution, and over 12 churches were demolished by the anti-Christian communities. They beat up quite a few missionaries, and they continue to create more difficulties for the church at large."
Yohannan says one GFA church was burned down. "This happened in the presence of police, and the police could not do anything because there were too many that were attacking the church building. Then one of our missionaries was caught: they shaved his head and marched him to the temple, and they forced him to kneel down before the (Hindu) deities. And of course they beat him up."
While Christmas is typically a more open time to share the Gospel, Yohannan says it wasn't so this year. "Christians were forbidden to celebrate Christmas in many of the churches. They were stopped from traveling on the main road. So it was definitely a planned attack in terms of the opposition to the Gospel."
Yohannan can't remember this type of attack ever happening over Christmas. However, he expects more attacks, and Christians are concerned. "There is widespread fear, and I am hearing that a lot of Christians are hiding in pastors' homes and different places. And this has become a dangerous situation for Christians."
Stories of persecution around the world tend to hit the apathetic western church with closed ears. "These kinds of stories we hear should help the church to wake up and think, possibly, God is telling us to slowly prepare our hearts for an onslaught of persecution that may take place here."
In the meantime, GFA is asking for your prayers and financial support to help these believers who are suffering for their faith every day. The money will help support missionaries and evangelists and also help rebuild churches.