10/15/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – A Christian survivor of India’s worst incident of Christian persecution is one of the finalists in the Miss Teen Diva 2020 beauty contest. Melissa Nayak, age 19, hopes her participation in the national contest will inspire others and lead to the betterment of society.
“I was inspired to enter the contest in order to give courage and confidence in myself,” Nayak told Asia News. “At this venue, I wish to work for the betterment of society.”
Nayak was born in Gomandi village, located in the Kandhamal district of India’s Odisha state. In 2008, anti-Christian riots swept across the Kandhamal district after Christians were wrongly accused of murdering a Hindu priest.
After three months of violence, at least 91 Christians were killed, many hacked to death by axes and machetes, and three Christian women were gang raped. Additionally, nearly 56,000 people were displaced, forced to flee into the forests as mobs burned down more than 5,600 houses, 300 churches, and other Christian institutions.
“I was 7-years-old when I hid in the jungle and spent four days without food and drink,” Nayak told Asia News. “I experienced pain and threats to my life because I was a Christian.”
“Being a Christian in the region is a great challenge,” Nayak continued. “Thanks to my strong faith, I have not forgotten God, despite the threats to my life.”
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