Last week, I reported to you regarding extensive persecution of Christians in the Indian state of Orissa during the Christmas holiday period, December 22-January 1. Again, I ask you to pray for your brothers and sisters who face the worst persecution they have experienced since Indian independence in 1947.
Last week, I reported 74 churches and 800 homes of Christians burned. Since that time, we have learned of another 21 churches that were torched by Hindu radicals. We reported thousands of Orissa Christians who had to flee into the forests for their lives without water or food. Many of those people were existing on water licked from leaves. Some of the people reported deliverance from wild animals.
Since January 1, at least 4 evangelists have been burned alive in Orissa. At least 200 people are still missing, and of these, at least 100 are presumed dead. The state government has done virtually nothing to meet the needs of the suffering Christians. With little or no support by the police, Christians are still living in fear. They are getting sick from a lack of good food and water.
There is some good news. In the last day or two, members of six opposition parties have entered Orissa to talk to government officials and meet with those who have suffered. They are unanimous in finding that the root cause of the violence in Orissa comes from the radical Hindus. They have condemned the ineffectiveness of the government of Orissa and their complicity with the radicals, and they vow to present their findings to authorities in the federal government.
Orissa has long had policies hostile to Christians. It has one of the most stringent anti-conversion laws in India, ironically called the Freedom of Religion Act of 1967. In this act, conversion from one religion to another is forbidden under conditions of force, inducement, allurement, or fraudulent means ," terms that are very elastic in their meanings when interpreted by police officers and other officials who already have hostility against Christianity. These laws have not kept the church in Orissa from experiencing steady growth.
Pray for the ongoing situation in Orissa. Pray for the safety of Christians. Pray for those who have suffered and endured loss of family members, homes, churches, businesses and other properties. Pray that God will use these terrible experiences for good. Pray for boldness and patience and endurance for those who have suffered. Pray that God will give to the Christians a strong testimony that will impress those who are not believers and bring growth to the church. Pray for the 100+ IGO evangelists working in Orissa, that God will encourage them and strengthen them to go on.
Blessings to you and your family during these days.
With love in Christ,
T. Valson Abraham