Monday, February 4, 2008

Attacks on Christians may resume in India, says report

India-Hindu militants have "forced" Christian families to "convert" to Hinduism. Now, they're threatening to resume attacks against Christians in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, where up to nine people were killed in religious clashes last month.Mission India's David Stravers, speaking from India, says his staff is reporting the death toll is much less than what's being reported. "The know of 14 deaths of Christians and thousands of people that are displaced actually either in a refugee camp or in some cases they're just hiding in the jungle."According to Stravers they have heavy ministry taking place in the area hardest hit. "We had church planting, 13 of our children's Bible clubs. We had five literacy classes going. At least one of the literacy teachers lost his home and is living in a refugee camp. Four church that we had planted in the last year were burned." He says all of their programs have been suspended.Stravers says that the typical response when something like this happens."Because then you're not so high profile and people will find of come to their senses and people start talking. And, the people in the villages who have been benefiting from the ministry, they say, 'you're not teaching us any more, why not? We don't like this.' We actually find that the Hindus actually come to our defense."Mission India believes they know the reason for the attacks. "It's suddenly very responsive to the Gospel," says Stravers. " I've just been amazed to see the response on tribal areas and also the regular Hindu population. So, the persecution is really a sign of what we're experiencing with the fast growth of the church."What amazing is local believers aren't discouraged. In fact they're very positive. Stravers says, "This will actually increase our work. Because every time we've had this outbreak, especially in Orissa, the consequences have been we get more volunteers. Our director there said, David, if this persecution continues we will have so many volunteers we'll be sending people to other states."
However, there are concerns that western believers won't help. "We don't know how long this responsiveness will last. There are workers in place ready to go. They're passionate, they're willing to suffer, they know it's dangerous, but the still want to do it. They just need a little help. They need our materials and they need a little bit of training."The funding you provide goes a long way to fueling the outreach, says Stravers. "It costs us about $30 for each literacy people and only a $1 for each child that's in a Bible club. Our staff is saying we could easily double what we're doing in Orissa if we only had the ability to do so."To put the need in perspective-Mission India currently provides literacy training to 130,000 Hindus, with 270,000 on a waiting list. That means only one-third are able to hear the Gospel.
If you'd like to help, Mission India with children's Bible clubs, church planting or literacy training click here.

As in the days of Noah...

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