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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_single_image image=”103710″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]12/21/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern)I consider coming out of jail after 11 years like receiving a new life altogether,” said Duryodhana Sunamajhi. The 50-year-old Christian is one of seven innocent Christians convicted of killing a Hindu monk in 2008 at his Jaleshpata monastery in Kandhamal district in India’s Odisha State. Although radical Maoists immediately claimed responsibility for the murder of the Hindu monk, Laxmanananda Saraswathi, radical Hindu organizations blamed Christians. As a result, anti-Christian riots ignited across the district. The seven Christians were convicted in 2013 and most have been serving life sentences in the prison ever since.

The 2008 Kandhamal anti-Christian violence is the largest non-natural tragedy in independent Indian history. The violence that occurred took more than 100 lives, displaced 52,000 Christians, desecrated or destroyed 300 churches and Christians institutions, and ransacked or torched 4,500 Christian homes. This violence, triggered in Kandhamal district, spread across 13 other neighboring districts in Odisha State.

Five of the seven Christians accused in the case were recently granted bail from the country’s Supreme Court on November 26, 2019. The other two who were imprisoned for the same crime received bail earlier in 2019. International Christian Concern (ICC) has been standing with the families of seven imprisoned Christians by developing sustainable livelihood and rehabilitation projects in the absence of their primary breadwinners.

While speaking with International Christian Concern, Duryodhana Sunamajhi said, “I wondered if this day would be possible at all, and I am glad to be with my family after over a decade of gap. It is God who sustained me and comforted me all through 11 years away from my family serving the life sentence in prison.” Sunamajhi continued, “My family received me with garlands and they washed my feet with water and clothed me with new garments. There is no limit for the joy God gave me, realizing that again I can be with my family.

“The prison life was very hard,” said Sunamajhi, “When I remember my family, the church, and my relatives, I used to have [a] really heavy heart, and I used to be sad, the prayers of saints from all over the world sustained me and my faith. Some of us used to get together regularly for prayer meditation, and several non-Christians used to attend the prayers; even some non-Christians made commitments to follow Jesus.”

For another imprisoned believer, 45-year-old Sanatan Badamajhi, coming home is a strange experience. His youngest son, Nikadin Badamajhi, was only one-year-old when Sanatan was taken to prison 11 years ago. Sanatan commented to ICC, “My son couldn’t recognize me because he was one-year-old, even I couldn’t recognize my children either. I wish I was around seeing them grow. I missed my family members terribly as I used to remember them always.”

Despite the hardship Sanatan faced, he recounted how he saw God’s goodness during the years in prison. “It was God’s Word which strengthened and comforted me. I always remember how God delivered Israel from the bondage in Egypt through Moses. Similarly, I feel our God delivered us from the bondage through His Church, the body of believers, and I am so happy that I am free.”

Sanatan expressed his gratitude to Christians around the world who prayed for him and the six others during their time behind bars. He also thanked those who extended a helping hand to his family while he was in the prison.

Justice was surely delayed for these seven innocent Christians. However, the granted relief brought much relief and joy to the families and to the seven accused Christians, especially as a pleasant surprise during the Christmas season.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1576866524855{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

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