Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fear spreads again through Orissa

India (MNN)The slaying of another Christian in India's Orissa state has rekindled persecution fears.Because this has not been an isolated incident, church leaders have raised their eyebrows on the government's security guarantees of safety for believers. Earlier this year,India's Supreme Court ordered the state government of Orissa to protect the tens of thousands of Christians being targeted by Hindu extremists.Tensions remained high even as the situation seemed to be resolving.With the newest discovery, there are fears that the region could erupt again.The body of 40-year-old Hrudayananda Nayak was found in a jungle near his home village of Rudangia, in Kandhamal district last Thursday.Once the worst of the violence in the region appeared to have settled down,Nayak left the relief camp where he had taken refuge and returned to his home village. Within 24 hours, he was dead. One church leader noted that Nayak was the fourth Christian to be abducted and killed after violence ebbed down by the end of October.JP Sundararajan with Audio Scripture Ministries says they've heard an alarming rumor. "The rumor-and it hasn't been really substantiated at this point-was that every 23rd of the month, or around that time,one Christian would be killed to commemorate the anniversary of this extremist who got gunned down." The violence that broke out in August of last year was sparked after Hindu fundamentalists accused Christians of slaying a local Hindu leader on Aug. 23, 2008, for which the Maoists had repeatedly claimed responsibility.Earlier this month the state government had announced the shutdown of relief camps in Kandhamal district.The National Council of Churches in India says victims are reluctant to return to their villages, due to increasing threats demanding "re-conversion to Hinduism."Whether or not Nayak's murder was connected to the rumor remains to be seen. Sundararajan says with the violence last fall and early this year, they've been in close contact with their team in Orissa.Sundararajan says they've found that "there has been tremendous growth in these areas where there have been terrible incidents of persecution."That's all that they need to move forward, despite the safety concerns.Sundararajan says there's a lot at stake."Next week, we're actually going into Orissa to do probably one of the biggest Scripture distributions that we have ever done.It's among the tribals-the people who have been undergoing the brunt of the persecution, the people who have been in the relief camps."
--Pray for safety and wisdom for their teams during the distributions.
As in the days of Noah...

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