India’s Christians get federal help

By September 30, 2008

India (MNN) — India's federal
government is acting in Orissa after fresh clashes between Hindus and
Christians over the weekend. These appear to have been triggered by religious
conversions.

Ron Green is with Grand Rapids, Michigan-based
Mission India.
He says, "The
attacks continue, but the initial sweep of violence through Kandhamal province
seems to have toned down. The state government and state police were actually
part of the problem and helped organize some of the attacks, but the federal
government of India has sent in federal police to try to just stop
movement." 

More than 700 federal police were
sent Friday to Orissa to join the 3,000 federal police who have already been
deployed in the region to restore order. 
 

Mission India staff report that
at least 2,400 homes were destroyed, as many as 35 people are dead, and at
least 40 churches have been burned or vandalized in Kandhamal.

Since the violence began,
believers were forced to retreat from the areas that have been their homes for
centuries. "Christians want to go back. They want to rebuild their
churches. They want to rebuild their homes. They are frightened, but not
panicked. They're still counting the cost there."

Among some of the stories coming
back to the ministry are accounts where church planter students have been
threatened and attacked. Believers are
being forced by extremists to renounce Jesus in "re-conversion"
ceremonies, and a literacy teacher's life was threatened if he continued to
teach in his village.

Violence
against Christians is not new in Orissa, where just 2.4% out of 36.8 million people are followers of
Jesus. Orissa is one of six states in India that have passed "Freedom of
Religion" Acts that require people to get government permission before they can
become Christians or be baptized.

The good news is that weeks of
nonstop violence failed to stifle the Gospel. "I would say maybe
20-percent of the work that we have in Orissa has been disrupted, and the rest
continues. There's a high level of
responsiveness in Orissa."

Keep praying for an end to this
wave of brutal violence. Pray that believers under attack will set Christ apart
as Lord and not give in to fear. Pray that those who persecute Christians will
come to repentance and faith in Christ.

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