Pastors gather in Orissa State, India for conference, despite persecution

By March 9, 2004

India (MNN) — A five day pastor’s conference is finishing up today despite threats of violence in that Hindu nation. Gospel For Asia’s KP Yohannan says more than 800 missionaries and pastors have been participating in the conference.

Yohannan is in Orissa State today, the state where missionary Graham Staines and his children were killed by Hindu militants five years ago. Yahannan says, “Orissa is in the news all the time. I must tell you my heart is really grieved to hear the persecution and the stories regarding the suffering our brothers are going through. It’s such a needy state, yet such an amount of persecution going on.”

A few of the pastors attending the conference are facing charges by their local authorities. “There are 17 pastors here who are out on bail,” says Yohannan, “their case is pending. They have all been arrested and taken to jail or prison and they’ve been released on bond. They’ve been accused of forced conversion and stuff like that.”

Despite the difficulties, Yohannan says the work is moving forward. However, he is concerned about the future. “What is going to happen after the next election,” says Yohannan, “if the fundamentalist government gets a majority we don’t know where India’s going to head for.” He adds, “People by millions all over the world need to pray that the Lord will keep the freedom in this country for preaching the Gospel.”

Yohannan’s pray is that, “The Lord will give an absolute determination for everyone of these brothers to lay down their life for preaching the Gospel. The only way to go is making a commitment to die for Christ’s sake and not holding anything back. When Jesus called, He called us to come and die. And, I want every pastor, missionary and evangelist to leave this place saying that I’m willing to die for Christ’s sake.”

While persecution is growing against Christians, it’s not preventing people from coming to Christ. Gospel for Asia is raising money to purchase one-million Bibles and New Testaments to address this need. It only costs $1.00 to purchase a Bible, which is a great project for a church, Sunday school class or youth group.

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