India (MNN) — In August, a Hindu leader in India was killed by Maoists. Christians were blamed, and riots broke out across the state of Orissa, displacing thousands of Christians. The death toll is still unknown, but officials estimate it to be around 90.
Josh Fisher with Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India just returned from a fact-finding visit to the region, and he says the damage was catastrophic. "One of the villages we were in was a totally Christian village. It had 58 homes. At the end of the road, it dead ended into the village church. The mobs came in and destroyed everything. "
Fisher says this happened in many locations. A government insider says the official death toll isn't correct. "He himself consigned 200 dead bodies found from the jungles to flames, after getting them collected in a tractor. And as for his estimates, he based the intensity and the pace of the killings numbering over 500. Clearly something happened that is being reported accurately."
According to Fisher, these attacks have affected their partners. "At least 30 of our partners have been affected by this. That means their programs have been stalled or postponed. 15 of our ministry partners had to suspend operations. They lost their churches. They lost their homes. We have church planters that were in training that are living in relief camps and they're unable to finish their training at this time."
While the government-run relief camps are helping some, many more are in private facilities. "These people are not receiving enough assistance. Many of them don't have enough food and clothing and warm blankets. It's winter time in Orissa now. Especially in these camps in the mountains, it's very cold."
That's why Mission India is committed to raising enough money to help 2,000 people with relief kits "containing valuable survival items such as clothing, bedding, blankets, cooking utensils, medicine and food. The cost is just $35."
Fisher is pleading with you to help, because they've given it all up for Christ. "People are being allowed back to their villages, but there's this ultimatum waiting for them everywhere, which is, 'Come back as a Hindu, or face your death.' So they've decided to leave everything behind and start over."
While this short-term assistance is needed, Mission India is already looking ahead to long-term help. "Of these people who died, many of them were pastors. There's going to be a great need to train more pastors in this area. They've lost hundreds of pastors. So pastoral training will be important."