India (MNN) — The first non-stop, anti-Christian violence took place in Orissa but is now spreading elsewhere.
According to Evangelical Fellowship of India, nearly 50 people have been killed, and 13,000 are in relief camps. In the worst-hit district of Kandhamal, reports list that over 2,000 homes were destroyed and as many as 35 people were killed. Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India ministry partners have been severely affected by the Orissa violence. Extremists are forcing believers to renounce Jesus in "re-conversion ceremonies," and churches have been burned. Church Planter students have been threatened and attacked, books have been confiscated from Adult Literacy students, and one literacy teacher's life was threatened if he continued to teach in his village. Believers in Orissa fear for their lives daily, and the attacks are growing and spreading.
In Bangalore, a city in southern India, mobs of Hindu extremists marched through the streets inciting crowds to attack a Bible college, pastors, and numerous churches. In a series of planned attacks, extremist mobs impelled violence on churches and vandalized prayer centers in Karnataka. Churches were burned, and many schools and believers were assaulted throughout the regions of India. In Jharkhand, the villagers attacked Christians after a worship service. The crowd beat the pastor and believers, then dragged them to a forest temple where their lives were threatened if they did not renounce their faith in Jesus Christ. Later the mob handed the believers over to police, where they were not released from jail for several hours.
Even police aren't safe from this violence. The national newspaper The Hindu reported that in the riot-hit district of Kendhamal, four people were shot dead, including one police officer, and a police station was set on fire
Pray for believers in India and for Mission India staff. A four-week training session for Children's Bible Club leaders will be held by Mission India staff; the volunteers will be taught how to reach youth for Christ and to disciple them. Police have already disrupted one training session, and several more are to be held in areas where persecution has intensified. Pray that no more training programs will be disrupted and that God will fill the volunteers' hearts with courage as they share the Gospel with India's children and their families.
If you'd like to learn more about the violence in Orissa state or how you can help, please click here.