One of our close ministry friends, Jyoti Chakravartty, from India just informed Dr. Crandall today of some severe persecution toward Christians that has just begun in India. Apparently, a Hindu leader was murdered and the blame has wrongly fell on Christians there who are now being persecuted and forced to run to the jungle to flee for their lives. Dr. Crandall has been in touch with Jyoti who is safe and has assured him of our prayer.
This email comes with a very heavy heart.. I don’t know whether the western medial has shown the recent attack on the Baptist, Catholic and Gospel of Asia churches and World Vision offices. IN case if you want I can send you website URLs of the news from Indian News Papers.
Yesterday I was suppose to leave for Hyderabad along with Pastor Nathan Hazra to attend the Annual General Meeting and Board meetings of India Missions Association (largest Umbrella body of Indian Missions, evangelical church bodies) from August 27-30.2008 and on Sunday August 31.2008 I was invited to preach (message on Biblical Creation) in two large Churches. I was all excited so was Nathan Hazra, as we will be able to meet friends from all over India leading various Christian ministies, many of them I know of more than 20 years since my days with SGM and SIL/Wycliffe. We decided to take a 42 hours train journey basically to shut our phones and sleep on the sleeper coach.
Well I left 5 am in the morning after having 2 hours sleep as I was trying to finish my work. The train was suppose to depart at 7.25 am when I arrived at the station met some old friends including one of my students from Calcutta Bible College, he recognized me and came and introduced himself. Now leading a large church in the North of West Bengal, well we waited and then we heard that the train was rescheduled and will be departing 11 am then after that we heard that again it was rescheduled and will be leaving at 1610 hrs. But later we found that the train was cancelled due to turmoil in Orissa (same state where Australian Missionary Graham Staines were murdered few years ago) and there is a state wise strike in protest of a Hindu leader who was murdered by the Maoist. But the blame came on Christians and scores of Baptist, Catholic and Gospel for Asia and Penticostal churches are burnt down attacked. My friends in World Vision were beaten up and their office was ransacked and many fled in the Jungle to hide.
Even today I was not able to contact my friends over the telephone not even in their mobile. This evening I was able to contact a friend in state capital Bhubaneswar. His voice sounded very scary, he informed me that I was not able to contact others as many of them have fled in jungle and there is no Tower to catch signals. Please pray for this situation. The School Colleges are closed in Orissa till first week of September.
Some places are just cutup, specially Beharampore I was not able to contact any of my friends there. In 2006 we had one of our largest Creation seminar organised by the locals who were so generous. Sadly I was not able to get in touch with them over the phone till now.
I am forwarding the following email from a friend who use to be with the World Vision but now heads EFICORE. I recount enjoying delicious meals at his house.
Please do pray for our dear brothers and sitsters those who have lost all their belongings, have been suffering and persecuted for their faith.
With Christian greetings
In His Grace
The following information collected from different fields of riots affected areas of Orissa directly from the victims for your information and sincere prayer.
In Phulbani, the district headquarter of Kondhamal district, more than 25 houses were attacked, all house hold things/ properties burned in front of the houses. RC church and Baptist church were attacked and ransacked in the presence of the police.
In Raikia, 40km from Phulbani, 10 shops belong to Christians burned and looted yesterday while the dead body of late lakhanananda Saraswati was carried towards Phulbani and than cremated in Chakapada where Mr.Swaraswati lived for many years and continued all the activities.
- In Tikabali, which is near to Chakapada Mr.Swaraswati, more than 10 houses were set ablaze and one Church completely demolished. Now all Christians with families live in the jungle.
- Pastor Sikandar Singh(Missionary Association President, Kalahandi)was attacked by a group of fundamentalists today morning 9am. His house is looted and demolished. Believers from Indian Christian Revival Mission were attacked too.
- In Jeerango, a village 32km away from Parlakhemundi and around 90km from Berhampur, one church was blasted and 11 houses were destroyed. Activists were not from the local area.
- Twelve families in Rupanagar, 3km away from Chakapada, were attacked, houses were set ablaze one woman was burned alive apart from a nun who burned alive in Baragada ashram. Fundamentalists are basically from neighboring states.
- Mr.Prabir Kumar Swain from Jagatsinghpur ADP, a project of WVI, is gharowed by the fundamentalists since morning. They are arguing and forcing the house owner to take Mr.pravir and pastor out of the house. House is famous person in that small town and gracious to these two families. But the fundamental activities waiting out side the house to attack pastor and Mr.Pravir's f amily. Night 2 am one vehicle will come from Bhubaneswar to take them. Though it is very much risky but they do not have any alternative. Please pray for them.
- In Baliguda Rev.Gurubandhu Sansad, Ex.UESI staff an UBS graduate is under attack. House owner suddenly asked him to vacate the house as fundamentalist activities would attack him at evening. When I called Rev.Gurubandhu at evening he was not in a situation to talk to me over phone as he was about to be attacked and asked me to pray and put down his phone. We are not able to contact him.
- In Divyajoyti a RC pastoral centre in Angamendi village, near Nuagoan and 20km away from baliguda,Father Thomas Challen was bitten mercilessly and stripped, was made to walk necked in Nuagoan and baliguda. A Nun who was in that centre was raped yesterday at about 3 pm. Last time when I went to Kondhamal area for relief I had stayed in this centre and Father Tomas had given me shelter
- Around 3 people were killed in the village Piangian 3km away from Rikia. This news has to be confirmed yet. Now at this moment house burning is going on in Rikia by more than 200 fundamental activities. Police is simply following them helplessly. Police is watching the situation being inactive.
- Many fundamental activities are entering into Kharihar Road, 150 km from Raipur and around 10km from Nuapada (Orissa), through Nuapada to attack kharihar Mission Hospital. They burned two shops in front of the Christian hospital. Now the hospital is protected by the police. Activities have bitten up the local pastor Isudananda Senapati.
Whole night burning is going on in different parts of Orissa especially in Kondhamal dist.
Please continue to pray for the situation. Please remember that tomorrow you and I may face the same situation.But if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come from another place but you and your father's family will perish. (Esther 4:14)
Lalit Mohan Jena
Thank you for lifting our brothers and sisters in India up in prayer.
In His Royal Service,
Dr. David R. Crandall