Orissa Christians Thrive despite Persecution

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Christians in the Indian state of Orissa are refusing to abandon their faith in spite of weeks of killings, beatings, and attacks on their homes and churches. Juria Bardhan, Orissa state leader for Gospel for Asia, has seen missionaries and Christians being beaten and killed. Yet he remains unwavering in his faith. “We know the Lord is in control.”

Hindu extremists have killed dozens of Christians and burned down hundreds of homes and churches since the killing of Hindu leader Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati. Although Maoists have claimed responsibility, Hindu extremists insists that Christians are behind the killing. Around 13,000 Christians are sheltering in government refugee camps or hiding out in surrounding forests. Thousands of Churches have been torched and entire villages of Christians have been burned to the ground.

Bardhan says that the persecution has been embraced by area pastors, who see it as an opportunity to share in Christ’s sufferings. “Many of our pastors have said, ´Even if they kill us, no problem. This will cause thousands to come to Christ,´”

Bardhan also notes, “The attackers themselves acknowledge that Orissa used to be only 2 percent Christian, and now it’s 28 percent Christian. They don’t understand that by doing this, the church will grow by leaps and bounds.”  In fact, that is excatly what seems to be happening. The poor untouchables (lowest caste in Hinduism) are fed up with the way their religion has treated them for thousands of years and sees Christianity as a way to escape their social opression. The Dalits (Untouchables) themselves go house to house encouraging people to break the chains of opression and live a life of truth, peace and freedom.

Source: Church Around the World – Dec. 2008


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