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MNN (04/11/06) – In Rajasthan, India , Hopegivers International’s Bill Bray says the case to get their staff released went before the courts.

It wasn’t good news for the Emmanuel Hope Center Orphanage. “He [the judge] denied to all the staff that they’ve been holding now for over a month.”

The elder Thomas went into hiding, while lawyers for the Emmanuel Mission International have been questioning the legitimacy of the vague “communal disharmony” charges.

Bray explains, “The real thing is they’re just holding them hostage in order to bail not only to Dr. Samuel Thomas, our president, but also arrest Bishop MA Thomas, who they still don’t have.”

The next hearing is slated for April 24. While waiting, he says the staff been overwhelmed by the solidarity the situation has brought to the Christian community.

The city of Kota , in Rajasthan, is the main site of Hopegivers’ Emmanuel ministries, and one with a valued repuation of Christian charity and outreach.

Since the arrests, the bank accounts and assets have been frozen. That means the staff has been largely unpaid for the last few weeks. “Thousands of Christians, and Hindus and friends are praying and sending money, and are crossing the police lines and crossing the picket lines around our institutions,” Bray notes, “to bring food to the children. Not one of our schools is closed, not one of our orphanages has closed.”

Hopegivers operates orphanages, children’s homes, leper colonies, a hospital, nursing homes, Bible institutes and the first Christian university in New Delhi , among other ministries.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part two of what’s happening with Rajasthan’s anti-conversion laws.