Orissa, six months on
The following communication was recently sent from Orissa State to Paul Barnes of India Link Ministries. It reveals the traumas suffered by Christian people there.
A hundred and ninety days are over since the people have been driven away from their houses and traumatised in Kandhamal. The whole area looks like a war zone. Broken churches and houses look as they were.
I was there just four days ago. Thank you for praying for my safety, I came home safe. Two of the men I met, I was told, were killers now freely moving around. Here is what I saw and learnt:
1. Relief camps: Seven relief camps are run by the government for the 50,000 people whose houses have been destroyed. The people who are living there are in a pathetic condition. Breakfast for them is a handful of rice flakes with a small bit of jagery. Lunch and dinner is rice with yellow water which is supposed to be dhal. Vegetables are absent and the last time they ate meat was on Christmas. The people are living in cramped and unhygienic conditions.
2. Rebuilding broken/burnt houses: People have attempted to go to the villages and rebuild their houses while they are staying in the relief camps in the nights. But when they go back the next morning they are finding what they built the previous day dismantled and the construction material has disappeared.
3. ‘Only Hindus are allowed in this village’: I stood at the entrance of a deserted Christian village and saw this writing on the wall in Oriya. At another place I saw a gun with blood dripping from it drawn on a Christian’s house.
4. A gruesome story: One of the pastors I met told me how one of his church elders was killed. He was tied to a bamboo cross. His wife was dragged in front of him and asked if she would deny Christ, which she refused to do. She was then raped by fourteen men and chopped into pieces. The killers asked him to call on Jesus to save him while they cut his body part by part and killed him.
5. Pray for the repentance and salvation of the leaders of these attacks: I have the names of a few of them.
6. Relief work: Many of the women and children are still weeping and the men are without hope or help. We have helped just some to buy a sewing machine, a cycle rickshaw, setting up a small shop, buying a barber his tools and putting some money into the bank account of some widows. There are countless more people who are in dire need.
7. Trauma counselling and training: Usha is going to Orissa with a team to spend time ministering to some of the church elders and training them to counsel others who have been traumatised. I am going to be visiting Orissa from the 27-31 March.
8. House-building project: An architect friend and I plan to build little townships with low income houses in safer areas for those who are from the more affected regions and resettle them. These houses will cost about Rs. 70,000 each. If you know anyone who will like to contribute to this ‘Rehabilitation fund’ please let me know. I am going today to Chennai (Madras) to discuss these plans with my friend. We need much wisdom in all this and I would appreciate your prayers.
9. Please pray that the persecution will stop and that the people will have resources to reconstruct their houses and lives. Pray that they will be comforted and strengthened by the Lord.