India (MNN) — A radical Hindu movement says it will hold a rally in
Kandahamal district on Christmas Day, in the same area as the anti-Christian 2007 pogrom in Orissa.
We spoke with "Don" (name changed
for security reasons), a partner of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India,
to get his take on how Christians will be marking Christmas under the threat of
violence. "Threats are still
being made, and they have to be a lot more careful in the expression of their
The Council of Christians says
that alarm is spreading amongst the Christians. Don says even before this latest threat,
there were security concerns. "Many of the believers that lived in the area have
not returned to that district and have scattered. Others that have returned
are much more cautious."
The specter raised by this latest
threat brings back the horror of an episode that had no precedent in Indian
history. The deadly anti-Christian
violence destroyed hundreds of homes, 115 churches, and displaced hundreds of
Entering the last few days of the Advent season and looking
ahead to the Christmas celebration, how are Mission India partners preparing
for the threat of violence? Don says
rather than go with a security strategy or tone down their message, they look
at Scripture for guidance. "Jesus said ‘Persecution is going to come.' One
of the greatest ways that we can help our brothers and sisters in Christ who
face this is to teach what Jesus had to say."
Mission India partners expect persecution. That will likely be even more true as believers
continue to follow Christ. Adverse
reaction to the message of Christ will continue. There are anti-conversion laws in force in
five states (Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and
Gujarat), with two states awaiting implementation (Arunachal Pradesh and
Rajasthan), and one state (Karnataka) considering a law.
Despite all of this, the Body of Christ throughout India continues to flourish. "We look back at the
work that we've done, the number of people that have come to Christ, and the
number of churches that have yet to be started, and it continues at about the
same pace." Don adds, "We find
believers continuing to share their faith. They really can't keep quiet."
There are scattered reports of attacks that have been going
on all month. Justice from the 2007
pogrom has been slow. Don says the
Church needs to stand together in solidarity. "We need to pray that the
national government would have courage to see that the law is upheld, and those
that violate the law are prosecuted. Secondly,
pray that God would strengthen our brothers and sisters and give them courage to
remain true to their faith."