Northeast India suffering floods and sectarian violence

By October 10, 2008

India (MNN) — Unprecedented flooding has displaced millions of people in India, including the states of Bihar, Assam, and Orissa.  At least 16 of the state's 27 districts have been affected.

Over a month after the Kosi river burst its banks, hundreds of villagers in the Bihar remain desperate for food and drinking water.  Flood victims in one of the worst-hit areas, reportedly fed up with the government delays on relief, looted relief supplies earlier this week.

According to news reports, floodwaters killed nearly 2,500 people since the onset of monsoon rains in June. Thousands of survivors have taken shelter in government relief camps.

Dave Stravers with Grand Rapids, Michigan-based  Mission India says the disaster comes on top of weeks of intensifying religious persecution. "(In Orissa) The government has declared a 24-hour curfew.  Essentially that means no one may leave their home or move from place to place. They're doing this to prevent these roving gangs of extremists from attacking Christians."

The curfew has complicated relief efforts in the area. Floodwaters there also impacted tens of thousands. The heavy rains and flooding only magnified uncertainty in an already troubled region where Hindus have mounted a genocide against Christians.

The situation has taken a heavy toll on ministry overall. "300 villages were virtually destroyed in the violence. About 30-percent of our ministries in Orissa have been closed down, and they're not functioning for the time being." 

Partners in the area report that at least 25 Adult Literacy centers and 14 Children's Bible Clubs have been closed. Three ministry staff members lost their homes and belongings to the floods.

Stravers urges prayer for their partners. "The Evil One wants to use these things to cause fear and discouragement so that people will stop their witnessing, stop their work of compassion and just withdraw. We need people to take courage, to be bold in their faith and to trust in God's care and protection for them."

Pray for those who have lost their homes and family members and are struggling to survive.  Pray for the Christians' safety in a region struggling with mounting oppression. Pray that Mission India ministry partners will be able to resume programs quickly.

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