Violence in Orissa spreads, worsens

By September 19, 2008

India (MNN) — Orissa state's violence continues to spread. Some missionaries with India Partners have been able to return home in the past three or four days since
curfews have ended. However, according to India Partners' Dr. Iris Paul, this is just a small calm in the middle of the violence. The violence has spread into "the whole south of Orissa," she explained. Just four and a half hours from where she works, the curfew is still in
place. 

Rampaging Hindu extremists are difficult for local authorities to control. Dr. Paul has
seen the downward spiral that has lead to the current situation. Near tears, she says, "The persecution that the Christians have to face is really realistic. And, though none of my missionaries died, I know people who have been killed and churches burned. So, that's hard to take."

According to a news source, the government has dispatched more than 3,000 police. Still, mobs are putting up roadblocks, and churches are being ransacked. Many people have fled into the forests and nearby hills.

Dr. Paul's hospital ministry has been closed for nine years now. However, she has been blessed to stay active in her outreach. She is active in several government boards. Among them, literacy, Dalit, and juvenile boards.

She explained that Hindu extremists do not see missionaries as bringing the love of Christ. Rather, they see them as bringing some foreign religion. So, in her work for example, "They want all our help, but they do not want us to pray or tell anything about Jesus Christ; the only motive for staying there is to share our love. But we don't force anyone to accept Christ as Lord and Savior, irrespective of who they are–even the government officials or tribals."

Many mission agencies have had to change their structure in order to remain effective. They've renamed some of their departments, calling one "their evangelistic
outreach department and the other as social action."

"We still pray before we start the work. We still close with prayer, though others may
get involved or may not get involved. But this is an in-road, we think, into sharing God's love. So we are helping people who are really persecuting us."

Dr. Paul asks that you continue to pray for brothers and sisters in India so they can know that they are not isolated and forgotten. Pray that God will protect believers and that the violence will calm down. 

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