Trouble mounts for the Church in Orissa, India

By September 4, 2008

India (MNN) — India's Supreme
Court wants to know what the government in Orissa state has done to stop a wave
of anti-Christian rioting. New Delhi has
even gotten involved. They've now
promised financial aid to the victims of the anti-Christian clashes.

The violence erupted August 23 after
unidentified gunmen, later believed to be Maoists, shot and killed a popular Hindu leader.

In the meantime, religious
reprisals continue. Official sources
say at least half a dozen churches were set ablaze this week. 

Police arrested around 200 people
in connection with the riots. The unrest
left 13,000 people as refugees. Many
fled to surrounding forests or fled to camps in Orissa's Kandhamal district.

SunderRajan with
Audio Scripture Ministries says they're concerned because the violence appears to be spreading. 

With anti-conversion legislation
on the books, Hindu radicals often accuse missionaries of luring poor
and low-caste Hindus to convert to Christianity by offering free education and
health care. Those accusations have been more
successful in the rural areas than in the urban areas, until recently.

"The violence that started
in the villages has started slowly, seeping its way into the cities. So my
question to him this morning was, 'What's going on?' he said, 'I thought that
this was going to subside, but it has shown no signs of subsiding, and in fact,
has gotten worse and worse.'" 

Has the violence stopped ASM
partners from church planting? SunderRajan says caution is prudent. "I don't know for all ministries, but as far as ours go, we'd
encourage our staff to just kind of stay put and keep your families safe when
you can, because when there's a mob out there, you don't want to aggravate
anything. So I would say we've put it on hold for a little bit."

Pray for the ASM team that they
would be safe. Pray too that the
violence will settle down quickly and that believers will boldly share their
hope with others.

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