Life for Christians slowly returning to normal in India’s Orissa state

By September 10, 2008

India (MNN) — Orissa State,
India, is still reeling from the recent weeks of violence against Christians.

However, churches have reopened this week, despite the fact that thousands are
still afraid to go home.

Scott VanderKooy with Worldwide Christian Schools says their partners have returned to the school and orphanage
after fleeing for their lives. "The leader of that school project is also a pastor, so his family
was on the target list. As of today, things are operating, not as normal, but
they are operating."

Yet thousands of Christians are
still sheltering under police guard in makeshift camps on church grounds,
school campuses and police stations. At
last count, 53 people had been murdered, and 60,000 others, mostly Christians, fled to the camps and forests following the
August 23 murder of a popular Hindu leader.  

Riots, peppered with reprisal
violence, flared between Christians and Hindus and left dozens of churches and
homes burned. The Prime Minister has
threatened to use force to stop the violence in Orissa and offered aid to the
victims of the anti-Christian clashes.

Although church leaders were
targeted, VanderKooy notes that Christian school ministries seem to have
enjoyed a unique protection. "A lot of Hindus send their children to these
Christian schools. These schools are
very much a part of their community, and typically their communities, even
though they may be predominantly Hindu, recognize value from those Christian
schools. So far, these Christian schools seem to be kept safe."

The school is a ray of hope in this region. It was
established in May 2005 with the goal of providing education for poor
and orphaned children.

The WWCS field partners for New Life write, "We feel that children are
a vital part of the Great Commission, and we must invest in the lives of
those who need it. We assure you that your help and love will help us
to reach these children and win them for Jesus." 

There are reports elsewhere that are causing more
concern for other groups working in India.  The violence that set Orissa
ablaze seems to have spread to Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh
states.

According to Compass Direct, Christians in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, were
shocked Sunday when suspected Hindu extremists burned down the
86-year-old St. Bartholomew Church of North India.

In Chhattisgarh state, about 20 Bajrang Dal extremists boarded a
train at the Durgh railway station and took four babies from two nuns of the
Missionaries of Charity and two women helpers. Accusing the nuns of forced
conversion, they turned them over to railway police. Subsequently the Hindu
extremists beat a nun and a driver sent to help.

In Karnataka state, Christians leaders
reported that about 30 attackers on motorcycles and in an SUV stormed into a
church and abducted the pastor, but not before tearing up Bibles, hymnals and
curtains and beating church members. The
attackers then took Pastor R. Babu away, releasing him only after forcing him to
sign a written declaration stating that he would not go back to the village or
continue any church activities.

Please continue to uphold the believers in
Orissa in prayer. Pray that, in their sufferings, they will draw near to the
Lord, trusting Him to meet their needs. Pray
for comfort for those who have lost loved ones.

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