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Violence Continues in Orissa, India

4/30/08 India (Gospel for Asia) – What started as an intense spurt of violence around Christmas has stretched into a terrible streak of atrocities against Christians in Orissa, India, the state where Australian missionary Graham Staines was martyred in 1999.

According to a Gospel for Asia field correspondent, more than 1,000 homes were burned and more than 12 people were killed across the state in the three weeks following Christmas. Countless reports are still coming in from the state.

“This is a time when more people are coming to know the Lord than ever before, and the persecution is intense,” GFA President K.P. Yohannan said about the situation. “Our missionaries there know they could face beatings or death any day.”

The latest attacks came April 14, when seven women from a Gospel for Asia Bible college in Orissa were forcibly confined to a room for nearly four hours. The women were sharing the love of Christ when a local government official started arguing with them. He locked them in a room and brought in local journalists to take pictures of them. Finally he forced the girls to write a letter indicating they were spreading the Christian religion in that area.

On April 5, two GFA Bible college students were attacked by anti-Christian extremists in Orissa. The two students, Dileshi Sahu and Reban Tamag, were handing out Gospel tracts and Bibles when the extremists accused them of forcing people to convert to Christianity. They stripped off the men’s clothing and beat them severely. The attackers dragged one of them away and turned him over to the police.

Persecution has become a regular part of life for Durga Gedam, another missionary in Orissa, who went into hiding in late February for his safety. Extremists captured Durga while he was traveling on his motorbike and forcibly took him to a religious site. They kept him in a room and guarded him around the clock. Thankfully, by God’s grace, one of the guards had compassion on Durga and allowed him to go free. Numerous threats upon Durga’s life over the past year have failed to deter him from the work God has called him to do.

As well, shortly after Christmas many Christians, including GFA missionaries, fled to nearby forests after extreme attacks in their villages. They were forced to live in the forests for an extended time with none of their belongings. With no warning, many had to run from home, some even leaving their dinner cooking over the fire.

The areas these missionaries work in are some of the most unreached in all of India. Their desire is to continue sharing the love of the Lord despite these unending attacks.