Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Reality of Persecution

Jeremy Reynalds (Feb 13, 2014)

(Los Angeles, CA)—The worst anti-Christian pogrom of the 21st century has come not from Islamic extremists but from Hindu nationalists in India, an expert told a hearing in which U.S. President Barack Obama was challenged to quickly fill a key religious freedom post. 

According to a story by  John L. Allen, Jr., author of "The Global War on Christians," today told the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations that one reason Christians are increasingly persecuted is that Christianity is expanding in countries where religious freedom is lacking. Some states in India are prime examples.

While most estimates of deaths from the 2008 attacks in India's Orissa (now Odisha) state are around 100, Allen said the figure could be as high as 500.

"India's northeastern state of Orissa was the scene of the most violent anti-Christian pogrom of the early 21st century," he said. "In 2008, a series of riots ended with as many as 500 Christians killed, many hacked to death by machete-wielding Hindu radicals, and thousands more injured and at least 50,000 left homeless."

A pogrom is a violent riot aimed at massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group.

Tehmina Arora, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom-India (ADF-India), told the subcommittee that the impunity that violent mobs enjoy is an important factor in anti-Christian persecution in India.

Police resist filing criminal complaints and have on several instances allegedly threatened to falsely incriminate victims in some cases. The hostility of the state machinery towards the victims of communal and targeted violence was most evident in the aftermath of the violence in Orissa.

Arora added, "The National People's Tribunal on Kandhamal, (in) a private inquiry titled 'Waiting for Justice' clearly outlined the apathy of the state administration towards the victims and their families. The report also highlighted the fear faced by victims and survivors as well as the refusal of police to register complaints."

In many cases, only orders from the High Court in Orissa prompted police to file First Information Reports against assailants, Arora said. In one case, a Christian whose house was burned down filed a FIR but no case was registered against the named suspects.

"I was attacked during the 2008 riot and my house was burnt," Gajana Digal told ADF-India. "I lodged an FIR in the local police station, Tikabali, which was not registered against the accused persons… I have repeatedly sought help from the local police station for my protection but no action was taken in spite of my petition dated 19 May 2010 against the criminals with specific names like Dahia Mallick, Sudhira Pradhan, Ajiban Mallick, Mantu Gauda and Biranchi Behera. My petition was not registered and no action was taken against the accused persons."

As in other states, the government of Orissa has failed to effectively prosecute those accused of carrying out violent attacks against the Christian community, Arora said.

Though the Orissa government claims it took strict action against the accused, statistics show that of 827 FIRs filed, charges were brought in only 512. Just 75 cases ended in convictions, with only 477 people convicted, primarily for smaller or "petty" offences such as burning of houses and damaging property, she said.

"Only nine people have been convicted for their role in killing of the Christians," Arora told the subcommittee. "Human right activists claim that as many as 84,000 people were accused by the victims in the over 2,500 complaints sent to the police. The acquittals have been due to shoddy investigation and lack of judicial oversight."

In several murder cases, police failed to gather key forensic evidence such as bone fragments after mobs set bodies on fire; nor did they produce key witnesses at trial, she said.

"Police also failed to provide adequate protection to witnesses, many of whom later retracted their statements made to the police allegedly due to fear and intimidations," Arora said. "Even years after the violence, Christians in Kandhamal, Orissa continue to live in fear, unable in many parts to return to their homes and fields. They have been threatened and coerced to convert to Hinduism."

Elliott Abrams, a commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), told the subcommittee that lack of an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom has sent a message of apathy to countries that routinely persecute religious minorities. 
He added, "And if there is a long vacancy, it weakens the attention of the executive branch, it weakens the efforts of the executive branch, and it sends a message to countries around the world of inattention and lack of concern."

The Obama administration has not set a timeline to nominate another ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Obama, whose administration has come under criticism for limiting the definition of religious freedom and doing little to protect it, defended his record before 3,500 people attending the Feb. 6 prayer breakfast.

Asserting that promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy, Obama appeared to agree with long-time pleas from advocacy groups that the White House regard international religious freedom as an integral part of national security.

"History shows that nations that uphold the rights of their people—including the freedom of religion—are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful," Morning Star News reported he said. "Nations that do not uphold these rights sow the bitter seeds of instability and violence and extremism. So freedom of religion matters to our national security."



Source: Morning Star News Report 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Gospel of Peace

Every culture loves stories. South Asian culture is no different. The life of every people group in the nations of South Asia revolves around stories. No festival is complete without stories shared in oral or play format. Family history and value transference from an early age happens not primarily in written formats, but through oral traditions passed down from one generation to another. Even sages of the ancient religions here pass down truths in the form of stories.


So, it is only natural for us to use oral stories to create open doors and develop friendships. Stories are a culturally relevant tool to share the gospel truth in an intelligent form.

Read the story shared by one of our church planters, Rakesh (translated as told):  

               “Omlattau is a remote village. Many families live here. This is the story of one of the families that was oppressed by evil spirits. From the one-year old son to the oldest man, every one of their extended family members was oppressed by evil spirit power. And one by one they were dying; each year another family member would die. I learned about this when a relative came to me and asked for help. She said, "My nephew died. My husband's younger brother died; his older brother died. This has been going on in our family for lots of years now."
     So I began visiting this family in the village of Omlattau. I told them the story from Mark chapter one where Jesus was preaching in the synagogue.
"A demonized man began to speak. But Jesus told him, 'You are not staying here. You go out.' All the people in that synagogue were believers, but one of them had an evil spirit." I told that story to the members in this family.
     From time to time, I continued to visit that home; each time I went I told them a story, I shared the gospel, and I prayed. Now the Lord's presence come there through His Word and prayer, so the evil spirit had to leave that house. Now, they have peace. 
     But when the evil spirit left that house, it went into a neighbor's house! That family performed all kinds of things to try to get better, like idol worship rites, witchcraft and medical treatment. They spent a lot of money, but they did not get free from the evil attack.
     Finally the whole family came to me for prayer. I told them many stories from the Bible and faith increased in their hearts. As soon as they started believing Jesus Christ, the evil spirit left and now they have peace.
     Two or three kilometers away there is another village. One day a man came to me for prayer. He has a daughter who is oppressed by an evil spirit and his wife also was under a demon spirit's power.
     After he shared the problems that were going on in his family, I began telling him the New Testament stories. I shared faith stories and told him, "Keep your faith in Jesus. One day you will get peace from Jesus." I told him, "You believe. I am praying here and the LORD is doing a miracle in your house."
     When I finished my prayer, he went back to his house. I had not yet visited that man's wife and daughter, but two days later he came and told me, "Brother, through your prayer, we got deliverance from the evil spirit!"
     He said, "I know it was the power of Jesus Christ. Before I met you, I did lots of things to get help -- I went to the Hindu priest, the witchcraft and the doctors and I was spending a lot of money, but my family was not receiving any healing. But as soon as I met you and you prayed, your prayer started working in my family. And we got healing from Jesus." 

Now the whole family is growing in peace and faith in the Lord Jesus."


Praise God for the deliverance and peace that His gospel brings to our soul and families.   

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

2013: Few Glimpses

Widows Care



Widows Gathering







Few Other Images from 2013



 Unreached Tribes

Followers of the Way





Generator Set: To the next village


Newly Planted Church



Village Hut


Into the Mountains: Borders of Myanmar


Being Raised Up in one of our Homes


One of our Eight Children's Home


Coming Together to Worship





Children's Ministry



Relief and Rehabilitation: Hurricane Phailin Victims 









Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Bala's Drawings


Drawings of Bala, a child in one of our Orphanages
Village School

A Village


Followers of the Way

Monday, 14 October 2013

Phailin


Cyclone Phailin was the strongest storm to hit India in more than ten years. The storm, which made its landfall on Saturday, has destroyed several huts and laid waste large crops. Thankfully, due to early large-scale evacuations, the loss of human lives was minimum (23 people). However, the damage to property is extensive.

The weakened storm is now moving towards neighbouring states, leaving heavy rain. 

The immediate need is to provide clean water, food and plastic sheets. Our leaders are on ground to assess the need and provide immediate aid packets to those effected. Thank you for your prayers. 

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Cyclone Phailin Hits India







A fierce cyclone is ripping through the east coast of India causing great damage along the coasts of Orissa and upper Andhra states. Reports of first deaths has started to come in now.

Phailin's rain and wind will effect more than 12 million people. Wind gusts of more than 130 mph is pounding the farmlands and coastal belts. Such large scale destruction was last witnessed 14 years ago when more than 10,000 people were killed.

We lost contact with all of our leaders in this area. Power and communication network is down in these areas.

Our Team has more than hundred missionaries in these areas and several hundred congregations.

This is an urgent request to pray. Once the storm starts to clear, we will absolutely need to engage in relief tasks. A senior leader of  IET/Compelled has been assigned the task to lead this ministry. Please pray.

Friday, 27 September 2013

THE ICY WATERS

Gideon is one of our church planters in Bhutan. This is a story told by him:

It is a challenge to be a follower of Christ in Bhutan. The law often treats us as second class citizens because of our faith. And we have suffered great persecution in the past.

I have lost count of the number of times the police have taken me to the jail for interrogation and incarceration. However, we have continued to serve our God faithfully and witness as God opens up “trails in the heart of people” who come in contact with us.

A Gospel Carrier

The Mountains
Once I decided to follow our Lord, it was only a matter of time before I answered His call to be a ‘gospel carrier’ and serve Him. I climbed mountain after mountain, every week, often in the guise of a watch seller since preaching the gospel was prohibited. My bag contained watches for sale and copies of the gospel. 


After several years of hard work and much persecution, I had gathered a small group of people who had committed their lives to Christ.

Going to the river for baptism
Each one of us faced great danger from the law and the people of the land. Following Christ was illegal. Baptism was not permitted. Yet, all these brothers & sisters, new in their faith, expressed their commitment to Christ by desiring water baptism. 

The Problem

However, there was one big problem. It was winter. The waters of the nearby river were icy cold. To make things worse, the river was extremely swift. We knew of many people who got caught in its strong currents and had died.
The believers did not want to wait till summer, which was several months away.


What Could be Done? 

I wondered, what could be done? A few minutes in the water would make one stiff. How could I stand in that cold water?  What if some got swept away by the swift currents? Many would fall ill.At least one was an old man. I was not sure if he would survive. And, how would I bear the cold, swift waters till the end? 

So, we did what we know the best—we prayed.

We prayed for several days. The day for baptism finally came. We prayed long that day. After praying for one last time, we moved quietly towards the river. We did not want to catch anyone’s attention. Everything had to be done quietly in Bhutan. Finally we reached the river.

In the Palms of His Hands
Hands of Gideon Folded in Prayer

The water was wild and dangerous. One of the believer touched the waters and said, “It is too swift and it is extremely cold. How will you stand in the waters for so long?” But, I had great strength in my heart. I knew that God was with us.

I entered into the water with prayers on my lips. To my surprise my body did not sway at all, even though the flow of the water around me was very strong. I felt someone holding my body.

I then realized I was not feeling any cold. The waters, in fact, felt warm. I lifted both my hands and thanked the “Lord God who does not sleep or slumber.”

God Who Parts the Red Sea

However, things were not yet over. There were several others who had to face the swift and icy cold water. Somehow, I believed and trusted in our God to continue this miracle for each who would enter the dangerous river in obedience to Him that day. 

The trembling believers lined up and began to enter the water. As the first person stepped in he said, “The water is warm. How can it be?” I replied, “God who parted the Red Sea has turned the dangerous and cold waters to a safe baptism pool for us.” The second person and the third and every person experienced this miracle. Our God held the waters for us and made the icy cold waters warm. 

After the baptism service, we all bent our knees and
Gideon (not real name)
worshipped the Lord our God.

Immanuel!

I have constantly seen the great hand of God. When things get difficult, we pray. And, as we pray God pours out His grace upon us. Sometimes the 'waters' become warm. Then there are times He simply gives us the strength to bear the 'cold waters'. But,in every situation He is with us. That is our strength. Immanuel, God with us!