Monday, November 15, 2010

Hindu Boycots threaten christians in Orissa - India

The persecution did not stopped.

All India Christian Council

The Collector: of Kandhamal, Orissa, Dr. Krishan Kumar who headed the district during the anti Christian violence of August-October 2008 which left 100 dead, 5,600 houses burnt and about 56,000 persons displaced, seems now to be presiding over a well thought out economic boycott of the minority community.

Confronted with the stark reality, Krishan has taken to blaming the Church and its leadership for being a hindrance in restoring peace - possibly because they have petitioned the High Court and the Supreme court of India on issues of justice in the region.

The economic boyctott of Kondh and Panos Christians in Kandhamal, which first came to light in the People's National Tribunal headed by former Delhi chief justice Shah, held in New Delhi in August this year, continues to be a source of major harassment of the community, a fact finding team of social activist and lawyers has discovered in a field study of the region earlier this month. The preliminary report was released yesterday.

The fact finding team consisted of four well-known activists led by Advocate Nicholas Barla, a tribal activist leader, with Advocate Brother Marcus, a social worker, Jugal Kishore Ranjit, a dalit human right activist and Ajay Kumar Singh, human right activist.

They visited Kandhamal on 5th of November 2010 to verify the allegations of social and economical boycotts of Kandhamal Christians. The team visited four villages of four police stations of three blocks in violent hit district of Kandhamal in Orissa.

The following is the operative part of the Fact Finding Report and

Despite the state administration claims of normalcy, what has been found by the Fact-finding group report reveals a state of lawlessness and utter fear and sense of insecurity of the persecuted Christians.

The team first visited Gadaguda village under G. Udayagiri police station under Tikabali that witnessed violence as late as 30th of October 2008, almost two months after violence was unleashed against Christian. An elderly couple in their late 70s were axed and then burnt alive here. Scores of people were injured.

One of them, an army man, has bullets in his hands and thighs. Some are still in tents. The team interacted with the people of Dakanaju village and nearby villagers. They included the postman, Sarapanch and a group of affected Christians. The team was told the Christians of Dakanaju village were barred from taking water from the government dug well.

The team then met Gadaguda Sarapanch, Sachindra Pradhan and asked whether he was aware of such instance. Mr. Pradhan told that he was not aware and would look into the matter and sort out at the earliest.

The team then headed for Bodimunda village under Tikabali police station in Tikabali block. They parked the vehicle on the roadside and headed towards the broken buildings and houses, a sure sign of wrath of anti-Christian violence. Upon reaching the village, the team members headed for a pastor's house as there were hardly anybody seen on the street amidst the ruins.

The pastor, Binod Pradhan (name changed), welcomed the group to his house and a definite anxiety reflected on his face. The team found that his house was intact. The pastor told the group that he has been forced to become a Hindu to save his old mother, who could not have escaped the violence as she was not in a position to walk even.

Within minutes of the team's coming, a person later identified as a RSS cadre came to the house to enquire about the group. The pastor informed him that the guests are bank officials as his relative works in a bank. It was a sign that the team should leave the house soon.

Meanwhile, the team was informed of social and economical boycott imposed on the Christians by the right wing group RSS, the parent group of the Bharatiya Janata party, and there would be fines if any vehicle ferry any Christian be he healthy or sick, or their belongings from the village to outside or from outside into village.

The team wanted to verify the allegations and went to a house of certain Bamadev Pradhan, a tribal Christian. Bamadev was lying on the muddy floor and could not get up as he was struck with paralysis. The family members told the group that being paralysis man and was suffering from fever, they looked for a hired auto to take him to a nearby hospital, Tikabali, 8 kilometres away from the village.

Nobody was ready to come to village and finally a Christian who owned an auto-rickshaw was almost forced to pick up the paralytic person. when the hired auto was returning after the drop, it was stopped and taken away by the RSS elements.

The owner took the help of the auto union, which negotiated for the release of the auto paying fine of one thousand fifty one rupees (Rs 1,051) and with the assurance that the auto owner would not ferry any Christian from the village.

The team has started interacting with the paralysed family members for five minutes, when a Christian villager; Jesaya Nayak entered the house and informed the team members that it should leave the place as the situation was volatile.

The team went to another house. A fearful group of Christians had assembled there and interacted with them. The fearful Christians said, "We are in a state of shock. Those who have something have moved out the village and we poor people are left behind.

What haunts us and saddens us is the administration, the BDO and police, who are hand in glove with RSS. Instead of becoming sensitive to our plight, the administration wants to deprive us of our basic amenities. They have banned the local auto-rickshaws, the only means of transportation in the area from taking Christians passengers.

"We are not allowed to bring housing materials nor food provisions or medicines nor allowed to buy anything from the local shops. We do not have any shop of our own. Here, we are struggling to live as human being", the victims said.

The team enquired whether they had complained it before the police, the people replied positively and explained the statement of Inspector in charge, IIC, Tikabali, who said "being a Christian you have to suffer and there is no option'

The team wanted to meet the auto-rickshaw owner and others who have been fined. A villager volunteered to join to meet the auto owner, who has to pay the fine for ferrying the paralytic to the hospital. The auto-rickshaw owner, a pastor, told the team that he had to pay the fine one thousand fifty one rupees despite he had to complain to the police.

The team then met Birendra Nayak (name changed and a Hindu himself), who told the team members that he had to pay Rs 5000 to get his tractor released as it was transporting the housing materials for the construction of the house of a Boarder Security Force soldier, which was destroyed during anti-Christian violence.

Birendra Nayak went on to add, "It is because the local police takes percentage, (a bribe) and protects the anti-social elements who rule the roost. I informed the local police, but nothing happened".

Pushpanjali Nayak, the soldier's mother said who could be contacted over the telephone, told the group, "this incident shocked her army son, who became ill and left the village in disgust. We are presently living under polythene like a cowshed without roof and floor and proper wall with little money that we have had managed to collect, yet we cannot build our houses.

We had brought sand for the house and were taken away by RSS. Our life is hell here". She continued sobbing as she narrated. The former pastor, who says that he would openly practise the faith if situations become normal adds, "The sand that the tractor brought for the house was taken away to build the temple in the village".

Incidentally, there are a group of 15 police persons stationed in the village and they are mute spectators to these incidents. The team then headed for Keredi village under Phulbani block and went to a Christian household. The team found a huge photo of Lord Krishna.

Naresh Digal, an ex-army man (name changed) explained that he had to" live like a Hindu as they are four households in the locality. The environment is quite hostile and there is no support from the administration. He went on to further state that his neighbour, an ex- army man, had to bear the brunt of RSS people and his house was destroyed.

He filed the complaints and after eight days police came to see and left the place even without entering the broken house. The life time earnings of his neighbour are gone. What will he invest on the family's future? What is the use of this way of life if there is no support from anywhere?" The woman, who shared that her cousin has become a nun, said"we are waiting for the day when we could be free to practise the religion of our choice. "Not sure when the day would dawn."

The team then went to Gandapadar village in Minia gram panchayat in Phiringia block. It was deep in the interior. It was not difficult to identify the Christians' houses. The woman of the house welcomed into the repaired house. The team saw a huge framed photo of Lord Shiva on the wall. When asked about the photo, she changed her face and struggled to explain," The RSS has given us the photo and a "Tulsi" plant for worship. We have kept as often they come to check whether we reconverted to Christianity. We know we can never leave our faith." The villagers also stated that almost all the houses in the village have two photos; that of Jesus and Shiva. Tarabati Digal explained that there are 10 families still living outside the village.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

A christian letter from India

A letter from Brother Aby Mammen

Dear Brother,

Happy to know about your concerns about Indian missionaries. First, let me try to answer your questions.

The name of the brother whose transcript I wrote is Philip P Eapen. You may visit his website :

1. Malayalam Bible : The Malayalam translation of the bible popularly used by the protestant Christians is about 170 years old. Some of the words used in this translation are not understood now or has translational errors. So, preachers tend to compare with English bibles to get a clearer interpretation of the verses. In 1997 a newer translation of the bible was published, but it has not become popular. The people have a traditional mindset and they adapt to the new methods very slowly. Also, these are the only versions that are available. It would be good to have a Malayalam children's bible at least.

2. Persecution in Orissa : The news you have followed about the persecution in Orissa is the one propagated by the media. It doesnt give the full picture. The underlying reason behind why Christians are being targeted is because of the rate of Christian conversion is increasing !!! How is this increase brought to notice ? When Christian organizations themselves try to boast through the media about their work of conversions. You'd have know how the Australian missionary Graham Staines along with his two sons were torched to death by Hindu extremists.
Yesterday I got news about two pastors being attacked in Bihar. Many similar persecutions are happening to the native people. But it is not brought to notice at an international level, probably because the people affected are a minority and there is fear in the minds. Also, due to Christian principles, people do not seek to take legal actions against their persecutors.

3. Intimidation and Isolation of a new believer, house church :

To understand you need to read the full sentence and also the cultural context here. Related to this non-involvement is the general climate in today's churches. Instead of being seeker-friendly, the churches intimidate and isolate newcomers. Instead of having attractive, relevant services, the churches often have archaic forms of worship, seating arrangements, architecture, etc.

Please don't think that Christians try to harass those new comers in the church. To understand about the non-attractive worships, I'll explain more. In India, Pentecostal churches do not have benches inside the church to sit comfortably. This was mainly because of two reasons :

One is that : from the time Pentecostal movement became prominent in the land, the people were used to sit down on the ground on mats inside the church, mainly because we considered it as a better posture to worshiping God on our kneels than sitting comfortably on the benches. Also, there were no good musical instruments available as that of today. What was available was Drums and clangs and people clap hands when they sing and there is no choir in small churches. Even today, there are many churches who considers using other musical instruments would not be effective for worship!

Secondly most churches are poor and contains few number of people. In a town there will be many churches - a few big churches and many small churches. So, small churches would not have their own church buildings. Building a church needs money and the building expense cannot be met by the few members. So, they meet at the Pastor's home / rent a house to use for worship. That's how the name "house church" is coined. But interestingly, this is what we see in Acts of Apostles !!! In villages mostly the churches are poor and are house churches.

Even if a church has many members and has raised money to build a church structure, they would not generally seek to beautify the church or make the interior comfortable with benches / decorate the stage... or have good music for worship. This is because of the mindset of the people who are satisfied with the traditional worship style.

I go to a house church too. But we have electric organ to accompany the worship.

So, when a non-Christian comes to the church they will find a bit uncomfortable to sit on the floor, hear songs sung without music, listen to lengthy sermons etc... makes it unattractive.

Another aspect is using jewelery is considered sinful by the pentecostals here. Generally, people in our land give much importance to jewelery, especially the women. You can see a bride will be decked with ornaments for her wedding.

The early Pentecostal church leaders in our land took a stand to lead a simple life-style. They decided not to use expensive clothes/ build big houses etc and will not use jewelery. But as time passed by not wearing jewelery has become the general code-of-conduct in the church. People have taken it as a doctrine. So, when a non-Christian come to church, they will be seeing people without jewelery and will feel odd. Usually only the widows don't use jewelery in the land. Some churches would not allow to take baptism or partake in the Lord's table if the person has worn ornaments, because they are afraid to act out of the tradition. Thus it is a harassment and intimidation to the new comers.

You see these are because people are blindly following the tradition.

4. Summary of my previous mail for you to understand better :

1. Evangelism is done by very few people/organizations. People generally do not consider that they are appointed to do evangelism. But this was not the case earlier.

2. Churches are not friendly / happy place to the new-coming people. (I've explained why in 3 above)

3. Missions are not happening in unreached areas much even with the mission organizations because of - fear of attacks by non-Christians, lack of finance, lack of good relationships with people of other faiths and inability to mingle with the people in their cultural context.
4. Successful evangelism happens with person-to-person method. People bring their close friends or relatives to Christ after continually ministering to them at a personal level. This is called friendship evangelism or household evangelism. Mass evangelism like a convention will help only in creating a mood in the minds of people which should be done with a follow-up of those who have shown interest in knowing more of Christ.
5. Cell based church style : a big church will have small divisions called churches which will have their own prayer meetings and evangelistic efforts. This is becoming very effective.

6. Many churches who are good in evangelism are not good at teaching the Word. So, discipling is not done well. What results is a group of people who are not grounded well in faith.

7. There are churches who have lot of vision to engage in cross-cultural evangelism , but they lack finance. But there are other churches who have surplus finance but lacks the desire to reach out to evangelism.
8. A fast growing church movement in Eastern Uttar Pradesh ( the largely populated , but poor state in India ) - operating as a social welfare movement. The people evangelize their household members. No outsiders is involved. The converts do not throw away their traditional practices which are not contrary to the Word. They do not practise idol worship. But their weddings, festivals etc are still celebrated in their own cultural ways. Hence it is fast growing for the past 15 years.
9. Literature evangelism is very much in need now. Also, having songs, books, training materials, films in native language .

5. How you can help missions :

To see the zeal and the burden you have in the progress of the gospel has encouraged us greatly, dear Brother. May God greatly bless you.

I can help you to get connected to missionaries who really are in need and doing missions in difficult places.
I have contacts with mission organizations which find very difficult to run because of lack of finance. These times a lot of mission hospitals are shutting down or have started functioning as private hospitals (ie by taking more money for treatment to run the hospiltal, instead of the free / less money they used to take for the treatment as they used to), because of the lack of committed Christian doctors who are ready to serve with low salary.

I occasionally support a tribal mission hospital - who minister to the tribal people in a place called Attapadi ( I have great admiration to Dr. Muraleedharan of this organization who was instrumental in setting up a mission hospital, nursing school, an English medium school in a remote place in Tamil Nadu, by investing his life there.

There is another mission organization called Indian Evangelical Mission (, which are also struggling to pay their missionaries. I have a friend - Luke Titus who is a missionary working in a place called Lahaul & Spiti - places in the Himalayan mountain range. A hardworking missionary from my land doing cross-cultural missions at Himachal Pradesh.

Another mission organization is Saju Mathew of Jesus mission is another missionary leader I admire. He has mission fields in Orissa where persecutions happened. Also, God is using him in Mozambique in Africa. There are other poor pioneer missionaries I can connect to through trusted missionary leaders.

Missionary organizations will have a Social Welfare Trust through which they can receive money. If you can let me know how you would like to support - like is it a one time support or a continual support I can tell you what is a better method for sending the funds. Also, would you like to transfer the funds to the missions organization or directly to missionaries ? How did you help the mission field at Nepal ?

My mail is quite long... :)
I hope I have explained clearly to your questions. Pls let me know if you need more clarifications.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil 1:6).