India (MNN) — An edict calling for the demolition of churches and
buildings damaged in the 2008 Orissa attacks prompted an outcry throughout
The orders were issued on the 3rd anniversary of a burst of mob
violence against Christian in Kandhamal.
Many of the refugee victims have not been able to return to their
villages because of safety concerns.
Usually, when there is a new village, the government provides land
for the place of worship. Refugees who
relocated in the wake of the Orissa pogram were promised land to rebuild, but
the government never delivered. Then
came the order for demolition. According
to several media reports, five churches were affected by the ruling.
Dave Stravers is president of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission
India. He says while it's discouraging
that such a decree was issued, the clamor it prompted has an "up side."
First, senior government leaders said they'd overrule the junior
leaders on the implementation. Secondly, "Obviously there is an ongoing
public conversation about this persecution, and there are people who are now
standing up and saying, 'No, we're not going to permit this.' Where the story
has a good ending: it's often the Hindus who rise up and defend
Even more interesting is the number of people who are turning to
Christ in the process. Mission India
focuses on training church planters, teaching literacy classes, and holding
Children's Bible Clubs. Each aspect of
the ministry is reliant upon the other for growth.
For example, church planters complete a year of combined classroom
training and supervised fieldwork. During this time, they share the Gospel and
establish new worship communities. Church Planters often open doors to
communities through Children's Bible
India also provides training and materials to their partners who are teaching
illiterate people how to read and write as they share the love of Christ. During their 52-week Adult Literacy program,
a class of 30 students meets for 2 hours a night, 5 nights a week.
program is designed for instruction by volunteer teachers who have little
formal education themselves. And the Bible-based curriculum introduces students
to Jesus Christ.
the end of the year-long literacy program, 80% of students on average graduate
at a fifth-grade level of reading and writing. Many graduates make a decision
to follow Jesus and are in need of a church body and pastor–full circle to the
So, the persecution doesn't mean the Gospel is failing. Rather,
it's growing. Stravers says, "The
forces that are opposed to Christianity are just desperately tryin, somehow
to reverse the trend that's around them." Boldness in the face of persecution is challenging. Pray.