India marks a bloody 3-year anniversary

By August 26, 2011

India (MNN) — This week, thousands of Christians marked the
third anniversary of the mass violence in Orissa State, India.

During the pogrom, Hindu extremists brutally murdered at least 100 Christians,
raped and pillaged 300 houses of worship and burned 5,000 homes. The riots also led to the displacement of
over 56,000 Christians.

Dave Stravers
with Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India says while the buildings are no
longer ablaze, the scars remain. "The overt violence is not continuing,
except now in isolated cases. In several of the places, the villages are still
empty. People have not returned to their homes; they're permanent refugees
because it's just not safe for them to go back."

Hindu nationalists named the anniversary of the attacks (which began August 23, 2008) as the day of
"Protection of Religion." They
handed out leaflets that reminded Hindus that their faith is under attack by
Christians. Stravers says the plan to eliminate Christians is not
surprising. "Over the last year, persecution has
probably worsened from what it was just a couple of years ago all over the
country. We feel that it's a confirmation of all the reports that we hear from
all over India of people coming to Christ."

These nationals represent a militant action in a secular
country, but it's not one to be discounted, says Stravers. "It's a small
minority of people who are concerned that, for the first time in history, their
traditional religious beliefs are being challenged. People are getting new
hope. They're hearing the good news about Jesus and they're open."

According to Stravers, the same group is trying to get the
anti-conversion laws implemented in more than the half dozen states that
already have them. "There have been
members of Parliament in the capital that have advocated nationwide
anti-conversion legislation. This has not gained any massive support among the
politicians."

Stravers explains that the laws that are in existence are
not enforced uniformly, but they do cause disruption among their workers. In fact, just two weeks ago, "Fifteen
people were baptized, and they were all arrested. The person who baptized them
was arrested. They were charged with violating the law. They were in jail for a couple of days,
then released on bail. Their case has not been settled. "

Stravers adds d that "this kind of intimidation and
harassment is intended to discourage people who are considering Christ." Still, "It's not stopping
the movement at all' in fact, we see the response to Christianity accelerating.
The general population is all very open to the Gospel."

Their ministry comes alongside church leaders with training
to help them not only share the hope of Christ, but also plant churches and
disciple new believers.

Children's Bible
Clubs are also fast becoming the foundation of ministry due to the 4/14 Window, a time when a child between the ages of
4 and 14 is most open and responsive to the Gospel.  

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