Remember the Suffering Christians in Orissa State, India


Ever since anti-Christian riots started in India’s Orissa State in August this year, persecution of Christians has not subsided. On the contrary, the situation has become even more desperate. According to unofficial estimates, more than 500 Christians have been slaughtered in the state. This is 12 times the official count of 40 victims. Currently, some 70,000 Christians have been forced to flee their homes and are hiding in the forests or relief camps. Their plight is dire and they await assistance.


On November 15, around 50,000 followers of extremist Hindu groups held a rally. They made 3 demands of the local government: 1) Arrest the killers of their spiritual leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. 2) Stop all Christian conversions and the slaughtering of cows in Orissa. 3) Grant national awards to the slain Swami for his service, like those granted to famed Catholic nun Mother Teresa. They even declared that if the Government fails to meet their demands by December 15, they will organize a state-wide strike on December 25 that will shut down transportation and commercial activity, and even prevent Christians from celebrating Christmas.


Extremist Hindu followers are systematically forcing Christians to change their religion. They use different threats to compel Christians to deny Jesus Christ and convert to Hinduism. They have taken over church buildings and erected Hindu temples in their place. Employing bribes and brain-washing tactics, they have incited some Dalit boys from the Untouchables caste to persecute Christians. Money, food, foreign liquor and weapons are offered as incentives to murder Christians. The marauders are even provided with kerosene so as to destroy the Christians’ homes. Right now, tens of thousands of Christians are still hiding in the forests, afraid to return home. Even if they risked death to return, their homes would lie in ruins, and they would once again face pressure to deny their Christian faith and convert to Hinduism. A Christian woman was threatened by her neighbours to convert or her children would be burned to death before her eyes. Rioters would routinely pour kerosene on the bodies of Christians and threaten to burn them alive if they do not convert. According to Faiz Rahman, chairman of Good News India, extremist groups were offering $250 U.S. to anyone who would murder a pastor or preacher. The custodian of an orphanage in Orissa declared that he had helped 25 pastors escape successfully, but that 250 Christian leaders were still holed up in relief centres, waiting for opportunity to leave the state.


Gospel for Asia has issued the following prayer requests for the Christians in Orissa:


1.      Pray that God would use His Word to comfort and strengthen the families of those killed in Orissa, so that they would remain steadfast in Him amidst intense suffering.

2.      Pray that God would heal those Christians wounded in the persecution, and use their testimony for His glory.

3.      Pray that God would save the people hiding in the jungles and relief camps, and that they would soon receive needed aid supplies.

4.      Pray that the GFA’s Bridge of Hope centre in that community would be able to reopen and that the children could go back to school without fear.

5.      Pray for the extremist and militant groups who are opposing the Gospel to come to know Jesus and receive the grace of salvation.


To learn more details about the foregoing, please see the following web pages:


(The origins of the persecution of Christians in Orissa are described in the Shepherd’s Voice of September 21, 2008.)


By: Daniel To