India (MNN) — Church officials
are taking a stand on the Orissa State violence in India. They say the Indian government largely ignored the situation
because the victims were poor and uneducated.
In a scathing letter to India's
prime minister, Orissa's archbishop
wondered aloud how the government could stop the Mumbai attacks in three
days and the Karnataka attacks in five days, but they couldn't stop the attacks on Christians in
Orissa after more than four months.
Violence broke out in response to the killing of VHP leader Lakshmanananda
Saraswati on August 23, 2008.
India's Supreme Court ordered Orissa's leaders to protect
minority Christians, but the response to this was a withdrawal of military protection.
More than 25,000 people took
shelter in various relief camps in the district when communal violence was at
Now, to add insult to injury, officials are closing the
refugee camps–yet another sign that the government cares little for believers. Hindu militants are waiting in villages for the Christians to return, with plans to try to coerce them to renounce Christianity or be
Now, without the camps, there is nowhere to go for the tens of
thousands being turned away. However, some good may yet come of it, says Dave Stravers with Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission
"Christians now are looking to
migrate to some other state. They're sort of at a loss at what to do. Maybe this is like the situation in the
New Testament when persecution broke out against the believers in Jerusalem
and they all were forced to flee to other places. And of course, they brought
the Gospel with them."
Stravers says despite the
lingering threats of violence, their teams are still going forward. He's calling the situation "spiritual
Believers around the world are asked to
continue praying because Indian Christians "know they're in a battle, and they're willing
soldiers. They say, ‘Please just give us the resources and teach us how to do
it, and we'll go out there.' Virtually,
100% of the church planters that we train face hostile situations. We
ask God to bless them, and the miracle is — God is doing it. The Holy Spirit is going ahead of them. India
is so open to the Gospel now. The Lord
has chosen this time."
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