Wednesday, October 22, 2008

India's Christians get federal help

India-India's federal government is acting in Orissa after fresh clashes between Hindus and Christians over the weekend. These appear to have been triggered by religious conversions.Ron Green is with Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India. He says, "The attacks continue, but the initial sweep of violence through Kandhamal province seems to have toned down. The state government and state police were actually part of the problem and helped organize some of the attacks, but the federal government of India has sent in federal police to try to just stop movement."More than 700 federal police were sent Friday to Orissa to join the 3,000 federal police who have already been deployed in the region to restore order.Mission India staff report that at least 2,400 homes were destroyed, as many as 35 people are dead, and at least 40 churches have been burned or vandalized in Kandhamal.Since the violence began, believers were forced to retreat from the areas that have been their homes for centuries. "Christians want to go back. They want to rebuild their churches. They want to rebuild their homes. They are frightened, but not panicked. They're still counting the cost there."Among some of the stories coming back to the ministry are accounts where church planter students have been threatened and attacked.Believers are being forced by extremists to renounce Jesus in "re-conversion" ceremonies, and a literacy teacher's life was threatened if he continued to teach in his village.Violence against Christians is not new in Orissa, where just 2.4% out of 36.8 million people are followers of Jesus. Orissa is one of six states in India that have passed "Freedom of Religion" Acts that require people to get government permission before they can become Christians or be baptized.The good news is that weeks of nonstop violence failed to stifle the Gospel. "I would say maybe 20-percent of the work that we have in Orissa has been disrupted, and the rest continues. There's a high level of responsiveness in Orissa."Keep praying for an end to this wave of brutal violence.
--Pray that those who persecute Christians will come to repentance and faith in Christ.
--Pray for an end to this wave of brutal violence.
--Pray that believers under attack will set Christ apart as Lord and not give in to fear.
As in the days of Noah...

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