In Orissa alone, ServLife currently has 36 indigenous staff, working in their villages to start churches and share the love of Jesus Christ. Three years ago on August 23, 2007, over 100 people were killed, including women, disabled persons, children, adivasis and dalits. At least three incidents of gang-rape were recorded and at least 295 churches, big and small, were destroyed. Three of these churches were started by ServLife mission workers. Also, 13 schools, colleges, and the offices of five NGOs were damaged. About 30,000 people had to live in relief camps for months.
The Evangelical Fellowship of India says the the violence resulted from the killing of a local Hindu right wing leader, Swami Laxmananda Saraswati. The local media and police accused Christians for the death and the masses responded in violence towards the minority Christians in the region. This is believed to be India’s worst case of violence against the Christian community.
Speaking on the occasion, Rev. Dr. Richard Howell, EFI General Secretary said, “Over a hundred people were brutally killed for their faith in Kandhamal. Even today their families wait for justice and for peace to return to the area.”
At the recently concluded National People’s Tribunal in Delhi, former chief justice of Delhi High Court, A.P. Shah who headed the 12-member public jury on Kandhamal stated that justice had eluded the victims. “They continue to be intimidated, denied protection and access to justice,” the jury noted, “recommending stronger state protection to survivors and witnesses” Justice Shah said.
Yet, Kandhamal is not the only place where the minority community is under fire. Each day, across India, violent attacks are witnessed against the church (see below for most recent attack against pastors in Delhi and Karnataka). Last year alone, EFI recorded over 200 violent attacks against churches and Christians across the country.
Tehmina Arora, EFI Advocacy Director, stated, “India cannot afford to forget those who are persecuted and killed for their faith. It is matter of great concern for our secular nation, if those who perpetrate violence against religious communities, are allowed to go scot free. Persecution of religious minorities undermines the very spirit of the Indian constitution.”
Please pray for churches in India to pray for:
1. Peace in Kandhamal and for those who were affected by the violence across the country
2. Those in authority that they would take necessary action to prevent such communal violence from being perpetrated and hatred being spread and
3. The 36 ServLife indigenous mission staff who are working there. 3 of them have moved to Kandhamal since the brutal attacks.
SOURCE: Evangelical Fellowship of India & ServLife News