India (MNN) — August 31, 2008 triggered extreme Christian persecution in Orissa, India. Seven years later, there’s still fear and persecution, but there’s also grounded faith in Christ.
For a recap of the assaults in 2008, Hindu extremists–who pressured Christians to convert or reconvert to Hinduism–slaughtered 100 Christians when they refused to do so. 300 churches and 6,000 homes were raided and ransacked, many Christian women were raped, and around 56,000 Christians were left homeless, according to the Christian Post.
“For most of us, we were prayerful and interacted with the Christian community there in India at that time,” John Sparks of India Partners says.
Now, “For most of us, the fear and the experience of persecution has passed away and we haven’t tracked with that much. But for the people that live there, it’s still something they have to deal with.”
Orissa has remained an unsafe place for Christians, even with the passage of time. Sparks shares that he was simply going into the area, a policeman told him he had to leave because it was unsafe for white people.
Sparks now shares sad news India Partners recently received. “Two weeks ago…one of the pastors that works with our ministry there was assassinated–killed by people that were against the Gospel and…shot down in cold blood. So persecution keeps on going and [is] a desperate thing that they have to deal with.”
The indigenous pastor had been working with a church connected to India Partners for a number of years. He leaves behind his wife, 12-year-old daughter, and 5-year-old son.
The family has relocated to a safer area, but in India, widows are looked down upon and seen as as bad luck. Rejected, they rarely are able to make a living, and there’s no support network. They’re on their own.
However, the community of the church is helping to surround the family with prayer and encouragement.
“In many ways, the church has to rally around her and support her, and so that’s our goal: to stand up and stand with her, as Christians, to be able to help her in the years to come.”
Join India Partners in praying for the family to find help a way to survive.
Also pray for the church. “The situation there is difficult because of the stress that they live in. A pastor is killed in one area, the rest of the pastors tend to pull back and operate out of fear rather than being able to really share the Gospel,” Sparks says.
“By tormenting one, by persecuting one person, people are able to squelch the Gospel in many areas because of these actions. The prayer is that they will have boldness and be able to rise up and be strong in this difficult situation.”
Last week, protest rallies took place, marking the 7nth anniversary of the tragic day.
The Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar told Fides News, “The faith of Christians in Orissa has become stronger in the face of persecution.”
Continue praying for the boldness and safety of Christians in India, and for the spread of the Gospel.