India (MNN) — While it's been nearly four years since Christians were attacked by non-Christian extremists in Orissa, India, rebuilding what was lost has been slow. BCM International has been working in India for years, helping establish the church through Children's Ministries, Church Development, and Leader and Teacher Training.
The Christmas attacks left thousands of Christians displaced and church buildings destroyed. Have the Christians returned and are the churches rebuilt?
BCM International was right in the middle of the violence, says the Senior Vice President for International Ministries, Dr. Vararuchi Dalavai. Dalavai says, "I would say 90% of the people have come back from the jungles and relief camps. We lost 27 church buildings, and we have rebuilt four of them. We are trying to rebuild all of the church buildings one-by-one."
Dalavai says the reason the area was attacked four years ago was because of the tremendous church growth. "27% of the population [in this part of] Orissa are Christians. I think that's where the non-Christians got terribly disturbed about the growth rate, and that's when they planned to attack. The best way to attack was when they were celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Eve and Christmas day."
BCM is celebrating their 75th anniversary. Dalavai was just in Orissa for the celebration. He says growth of the church continues. "In Orissa we celebrated, and on one particular afternoon God gave me the grace to baptize 156 people in two hours."
Dalavai says the growth continues, and these new believers are serious about their faith because they know what's at stake. Dalavai reads the lyrics of a song from a pastor in Orissa, "'Come, let us endure the suffering of persecution. Serve the dearest Lord Jesus, and experience Him through suffering.' That's the response of the people in God's service."
It cosst just $4,000 to rebuild a church in Orissa, which would make a great church Christmas project.
BCM is also wanting to provide water wells at each church. Dalavai describes what happened at the site of one new well. "We made an announcement that this is for the community irrespective of what caste they belong. And that's definitely drawing people back to the congregation, back to the church, back to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."