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Peace Returns to Gospel for Asia’s Bible College in Orissa , India

From Gospel for Asia

3/8/07 India (ANS) – Calm has returned to Gospel for Asia’s Bible college in Orissa , India , exactly one week after students were assaulted and the buildings ransacked in an attack led by anti-Christian extremists. The peaceful resolution to the volatile situation came Wednesday, March 7, after a meeting of Bible college administrators, about 20 representatives from the village and B.K. Luke, who oversees GFA’s work in Orissa.

“One week ago they were hitting us and now they are shaking our hands and hugging us,” Luke said.

Gospel for Asia leaders in the area report the attack was spearheaded by a handful of anti-Christian extremists who took advantage of a land-use issue involving the Bible college and the village.

The injured woman — the girls’ dormitory director — is recovering from a head injury

The small Bible college is located next to a river, and wedged between a large rice paddy and a gated brick factory. Before the Bible college was built, villagers routinely walked across the undeveloped land to access the river. Once the Bible college was constructed, villagers simply carved out a path through the campus to access the river. They even drove tractors and other motorized vehicles through the college campus. The noise from these vehicles disturbed students and their teachers as they tried to study God’s Word.

Bible college officials petitioned the local court for permission to close the unofficial trail to outside traffic, and the court ruled in favor of the college. Villagers could still access the river, but they had to go around the college and the brick factory.

Local law enforcement officials have determined that the Bajrang Dal, a youth organization affiliated with a Hindu extremist organization, greatly exaggerated the effects of the ruling and incited the villagers to attack the school.

Dozens of students were injured in the February 28 attack, and several of the buildings on the campus were ransacked. The extremists demanded that the school be closed and that all GFA work in Orissa be stopped.

Five people from the school—four male students and one female staff member—are still hospitalized as a result of injuries. One of the male students was injured when someone slammed a brick into his chest. He is still in critical condition. The injured woman—the girls’ dormitory director—is recovering from a head injury.

At the conclusion of Wednesday’s meeting, the college agreed to designate a pathway near the perimeter of the campus that would allow people to access the river. The villagers agreed to limit the pathway to foot traffic only and not drive motorized vehicles through the campus.

GFA leaders ask for continued prayers for those injured in the attack. Prayers are also needed as the students attempt to resume classes and conduct their graduation ceremonies on the damaged campus. Also continue to that the extremists who plotted the attack would receive Jesus as their Savior.