Christians in India celebrated Christmas under the threat of violence. While there were isolated incidents reported, nothing on the scale of the Orissa pogrom of 2008 emerged.
Despite relief, they've started this year with a push toward passing the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill 2011. Government reports show more than 6,000 incidents of communal violence were reported in India in the past 10 years. That's a pattern that's likely to continue.
"Personally, I don't expect this to change because more and more, people are choosing to follow Christ," says KP Yohannann with Gospel for Asia (GFA). "Our people are facing persecution. Even recently, people walking into Sunday morning service, disrupting it, and attacking the missionaries and the pastors, threatening Christian families to renounce their faith."
But he adds, "It is not as widespread as it was."
Some areas are more volatile than others. Yohannann says Orissa has been a boiling pot for years. Whether the government is BJP or Congress, he says it seems that the fundamentalists seem to have a tremendous amount of network established.
In Kandhamal district, anti-Christians called for a general strike that would "Stop Christmas." GFA workers were worried that riots would erupt. Many fled their villages and took refuge in surrounding areas.
It's the same area that was most severely persecuted in the attacks against Christians in 2008. Throughout Orissa, more than 120 men, women and children were murdered, and hundreds of homes and churches were destroyed.
These concerns are why the All India Christian Council (AICC) is pushing for the bill to be presented to Parliament soon. It was drafted by the National Advisory Council and is now with the Union government.
Religious minorities and many members of civil society support it as a way to curb communal violence and bring justice to the victims. The problem, Yohannan says, is that, "People use religion, especially of the illiterate, innocent people, as a means to capture political ground and power. Religious fanaticism always is used by the crafty politicians to get power."
But it's really bigger than politics, Yohannan points out. Because GFA workers are tirelessly sharing the hope of Christ, people are coming to faith in Him. That means the opposition isn't so much extremists.
"It's a really strong spiritual warfare. I think the strongest weapon we can use against this thing is prayer and fasting," he says. "Then, as Hebrews says, 'Come alongside the suffering brethren, and love them, embrace them, help them.'"
Passage of the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill would protect some of the more vulnerable populations. However, Yohannan says this is not merely a political issue. "These communities, Muslim communities, Hindu and all, I think more and more people will come to know Jesus Christ, no matter what."
Pray for the believers in Orissa, that they will not fear and will remain strong in the Lord during this time. Pray that they will be lights shining in the darkness and that the Lord will protect them.
To contact us or to submit an article, click here.
Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.
Five ways to deepen your relationship with God, increase your faith and save money!
- Deepen Your Relationship with God with a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all of our free e-Courses. Favorite topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
- Super Discounts and Close-Out Specials: Click Here to view all our bundles and close-out specials and save up to 86%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
- God Wants to Anoint Women Now: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
- Change Your Atmosphere and Circumstances Through Prayer! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
- HUGE Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!
Attention Pastors and Leaders: Leadership training and development are crucial for success. Enroll in a FREE 1-hour leadership mini-course by Dr. Mark Rutland. View Details