India (MNN) — Christians in India's state of Orissa are finally getting some help from the Central Government. India's Supreme Court has ordered authorities there to provide security to thousands of Christians who fled their homes after some of the worst religious violence in decades last year, officials said.
Unofficial reports indicate more than 500 Christians were killed and thousands of homes destroyed in anti-Christian violence dating back to August.
Founder and President of Serve India Ministries, Ebenezer Samuel, says the Supreme Court's decision is significant. Speaking from India, Samuel believes this ruling is more than just a political statement. "Today I see in the newspapers that the Orissa government is taking it seriously. They've already issued a note to the effect that they will do everything they can to protect Christians."
Violence broke out in August 2008 following the murder of a local Hindu leader and the controversial issue of conversions in poor tribal areas of Orissa.
While the attacks on Christians have been discouraging, Samuel says it hasn't slowed church growth. A Serve India leader while in Orissa saw many Baptisms. "The Christians in Orissa are not going to abandon their faith. The servants of God in Orissa are not going to stop preaching the Gospel. If anything, there's going to be more zeal for God and for the Kingdom."
In the meantime, Serve India Ministries continues to help facilitate outreach. "Our strategy is to train the pastors and impart to them skills that they can use to plant churches. Each one of our 20 pastors is trying to plant at least 5 churches in the next 5 years," says Samuel.
But right now, these pastors are reaching out to the victims of this violence. Samuel says, "During Christmas we were able to reach out to least 600 families. We distributed supplies, clothes, and met with a whole lot of people who needed all kinds of help — counseling and other needs."
During this outreach, Samuel says they encountered people who wanted to join Serve India Ministries, and they plan to open another mission field with 20 more missionaries who will be serving in other parts of Orissa.
Serve India Ministries needs your help to support these persecuted pastors. "We want to be able to raise the money to support the 20 more missionaries that we want to deploy. We need approximately $35 to support one missionary. So I'm looking for 20 sponsorships."