We promised we would keep you all updated on the situation in India. It is still very critical. Our BCM President just returned from a trip there. Here is an email we received from him today. Please be keeping the believers in Orissa in your prayers!! If you notice at the end of the letter, they talk about students from BCM Peru – that is where we’re headed! Those are the teens we’ll be working with next year.
Marty arrived back this evening from our two Orissa refugee camps. He and other BCM India leadership arrived with a medical team that ministered to the BCM pastors and families, in conjunction with the Cephas Foundation Charitable Trust and Blessing For India (CBN), who supplied all medical supplies, PTL! A total of 205 refugee camp believers were treated for malaria, hepatitis, fungal diseases, anemia and other sickness, as well as care for pregnant women and newborns. One day was spent treating sick from the village where one refugee camp’s hosting church is located.
Marty met with pastors and shared God’s Word at each camp and listened to story after story from the refugees. One exciting answer to prayer was that seven of the displaced children BCM has been caring for have been matched up as missing children of some of the pastors in the camps; you can imagine their joy at finding those children alive. The others at this point appear to be orphans, though efforts will continue to be made to locate parents.
On a sadder note, as Marty and leaders met with one of the pastor’s wives who’d come into the camp, they found out her husband Ramar Digal has been in jail for a month now, accused of sedition because of the riots. She has two small preschool children. Over all, the reality is so much worse than is being reported. Pastor Nayak, BCM’s area director, says that 2700 BCM believers (these are baptized church members), plus their children are homeless. The stories they’ve shared have been horrific. One woman shared with Marty of hiding in the jungle with her children and watching the mobs burning her house, knowing she’d be killed if she emerged. The murders and gang rapes are far higher than is being admitted at a government level, some of the stories within our own BCM believers too terrible to repeat here. But then one pastor told Marty of one of his village believers, running through the jungle with small children, who ran into a tiger. Yes, they are man-eaters here. But one of the children walked right up to the tiger and held out his hand as though to a kitten. The tiger sniffed it, turned and went away. Someone’s guardian angel on patrol!
What is sad is that the Red Cross-supported camps, holding about 10,000, are now being shut down, the government saying there’s no longer money. One would ask where all the foreign aid has gone, considering the government seized it all. This ‘official’ camp includes not just Christians, but Hindus and anyone else affected by the violence. Now the government is telling the people to go back to their villages. The Hindu religious leaders have announced that the Christians can return home if they return to Hinduism; otherwise they will be killed on sight. Meanwhile, the wisdom of running our own camps for our pastors and families is clear since the ‘official’ camp, controlled by the radical Hindu government, there is no protection against the death threats issued against pastors. At this moment, twenty-seven pastors are on actual hit lists in their area. The radical Hindu group is paying 50,000 rupees (US$1100) for each pastor killed, each church burned, or each Christian village destroyed. A favorite tactic is to surround a Christian village and block off all exits, then ring the community bell, and begin killing as the people emerge from their homes.
Please continue to pray for Orissa as well as the other four provinces also controlled by the radical Hindus (voted democratically into power, one more proof that elections mean nothing without law and human rights). The day Marty arrived, seven more Christian relief workers were arrested on charges of ‘conversion by allurement’ under Orissa’s new anti-conversion laws. It is getting worse, not better.
We’d ask prayer especially for the pastors and church leaders who are attempting to shepherd their flocks while under so much strain themselves. Marty saw so much post-traumatic-stress syndrome from the pastors down to the children. Our BCM area director, Nayak, is himself suffering from malaria even as he tries to round up and account for his huge and scattered flock. His beautiful 17-year-old daughter, a vibrant ministry leader in her own right, died unnecessarily of appendicitis, complication from malaria, not long ago during this refugee crisis. He remains separated from his wife and surviving daughter because of death threats on his own life. He is one of so many heart-aching situations. Marty was able to visit with Pastor Dasarath Digal, whose son was murdered by the mob. He was driven out of one of our BCM refugee camps when the town leaders found out he was there because he is still under indictment as a ‘murderer’ for the assailant who fell from his church roof. So many of these leaders are grieving their own great losses, yet have responsibilities for so many others. Pray that they will be strengthened and comforted with God’s great love and that a solution will be found for the future; to date, neither the Indian government nor the international community outside the body of Christ has brought any pressure to bear to enforce freedom of religion.
Aren’t you glad God is in control despite all man can do? We cannot fix the world, nor even save people we care about from being touched by evil. But we can rest assured that they are in God’s hands and cradled in His love. Meanwhile we can do our part. We recently received notice that our BCM Peru Bible Institute students have taken a special offering for the Orissa camps. We have seen so many of our ministry fields around the world, most with very little funding themselves, sending what they can to help. There is nothing more beautiful and powerful than the body of Christ in action. Please stand together with us for our brothers and sisters in Orissa.
In the Service of the King,