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Insights into the courage and faith of the believers of the troubled Indian state of Orissa

ICC Note

“For some of these church planters, their suffering was so deep that they had previously been unable to talk about it. Although they have been consistently followed up by our leaders, this was the first time some of them were able to talk about their persecution.”

By Dan Wooding

03/18/2009 India (ANS)-Jossy Chacko is the Founder and International Director of Empart, a global ministry that exists to ignite church planting movements among unreached people. Empart’s primary goal is to plant 100,000 churches among unreached people in Asia by 2030.

He left India at the age of 17, with $20 in his pocket, a one way ticket to Australia and a big dream to become a business success. After early struggles with no money, no friends or family, he started at the bottom of a small logistics company which later grew to be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Busy climbing the corporate ladder and chasing success, Jossy’s life was changed forever by an encounter with an eight year old homeless boy from the slums of Delhi , culminating in the establishment of Empart in 1998. (Jossy’s recent book, Madness!, describes this and other critical encounters in Jossy’s journey – from being a ridiculed boy, with a mentally ill Dad, to becoming internationally recognized as a spiritual and social transformer. The book is available at

Under Jossy’s visionary leadership, Empart grew from the spare bedroom of the Chacko’s home to become a prolific church planting movement, bringing both spiritual and social transformation to unreached communities. Empart now averages about 3 new church plants every day, reaching about 6.5 million people every week through its various activities. With more than 2,000 full-time workers and offices in 7 countries, including USA and Australia , Empart is well positioned and on track to achieve its objectives.

He recently went to the troubled Indian state of Orissa and was told by a believer there, “Please thank the believers everywhere for praying for us. And ask them not to stop.”

He said that this was the constant request from church planters in Orissa, which over the past two years, persecution against minority believers has made Orissa the most dangerous state for Christians in India .

During Jossy’s visit, Empart church planters in Orissa gathered together for a time of prayer, sharing and encouragement.

“As they ministered to one another I learned more of the suffering endured by those in Khandamal, the worst hit area,” he said. “For some of these church planters, their suffering was so deep that they had previously been unable to talk about it. Although they have been consistently followed up by our leaders, this was the first time some of them were able to talk about their persecution.”

While in Orissa, Jossy met with a delegation sent by the European Union to investigate the reports of persecution. State government authorities refused them permission to enter the devastated Khandamal district. However they were able to meet with Empart Church Planters from Khandamal and hear their stories firsthand.

Deeply impacted by this opportunity, the delegates went immediately to Delhi to meet with the federal government. Jossy reports, “As a direct result of this delegation meeting with our Church Planters and petitioning the federal government, 5000 federal police were sent to Orissa to maintain peace over Christmas and beyond. Praise God for His timing.”

Thousands of Christians in Orissa, like Empart church planter Kirat, are still in relief camps. Kirat described their conditions, “We all live under a plastic roof. There are no toilets or bathrooms – we have to use the nearby fields for toileting but now the villagers are angry at us for messing up their fields so they throw stones to stop us going there. We get one bowl of rice a day, with a watery soup added every second day. It is terrible. I wish they would put us in jail – life in a prison would be much better than the camp.”

For several months now, authorities have been “thinning out” the camps by sending reluctant refugees back to their villages. Kirat, for example, was escorted back to his village by local administrative authorities, but the Hindu village people would not accept him. Someone in the crowd slapped him, in front of the policemen, telling him to go back to the relief camp.

In all his suffering, Kirat’s faith is strong! He insisted on leading

Christmas celebrations in the relief camp.

“We used loud speakers and other instruments, performing some dramas and enjoying the Christmas singing to the Lord. Thank you for the prayer and support – the functions were very peaceful,” he said.

Early this year, India ‘s Supreme Court ordered the government of Orissa — which provided little protection to Christians during the months of attacks — to ensure the safety of minority believers. Despite the court order, Christians in Orissa are still afraid to return to their villages. Most do not even have homes to return to, and those who do are being forced to “become Hindus” or face humiliation and be prevented from using public facilities like wells.

Despite this situation, initial steps are being taken by the government to withdraw federal troops and close down relief camps. Empart church planters report that the Christians are being sent out of the relief camps with some rice and about $200 as their “compensation” for losing their homes and assistance to start again.

Jossy says, “The church planters asked us to keep praying for them. Many are concerned that when the additional security forces leave the area, the radical groups will resume their assault on Christians. Friends, as the persecution becomes ‘old news’ for us, please remember that the struggle continues on a daily basis for Christians in Orissa.”