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Campaign of Terror in Kandhamal Has Subsided But Devastation Is 'Beyond Comprehension'

January 11, 2008

Christian Aid just received this update from a missionary pastor in the Kandhamal District regarding the present situation: An emergency meeting between Christian leaders and the chief minister was called, where it was decided that extraordinary action was needed. The deployment of more police force, including deputy senior officers, finally resulted in the suppression of the terror campaign instigated by radical Hindu extremists against Christians on Christmas Eve. But the damage is already done. "The loss of homes, churches, personal property is beyond comprehension. I toured these areas during the first week of January – it was a devastating sight."

A believer's home "burned and broken"

A report from Pastor Nayak estimates that "480 houses were completely burned and another 320 were broken." Broken probably refers to the physical destruction that resulted when believers were forced to tear down their own homes (or churches). And if these actions did not seem sufficient to the tormentors, they were forced to set it afire and watch it burn to the ground. It is hard to calculate the complete destruction, since it was not only the building that went up in flames. Except for jewelry and other valuables looted by the extremists, all other personal property was destroyed in the fires. The loss of church buildings is thought to be around 100 – plus all of the usual contents, such as Bibles, furniture, sound systems, and electricity and plumbing. Businesses and other enterprises were also attacked, thus eliminating the livelihoods of an undetermined number of people.

The government has set up relief camps of 800 to 1000 people each, who receive dal and rice. They will be allotted "three months of free food". The government has also assured the people that they will provide money for rebuilding homes, as well as income-generating enterprises. However, these monies may not be enough. The amount to be given for a house, for instance, is not enough to build a two room concrete dwelling with a toilet. Not so unexpectedly, the government has not made any announcements concerning the rebuilding of churches.

There is no way to measure the emotional, physical and spiritual damage to these human beings as a result of this pogrom. The sadistic acts of these extremists has caused irreparable damage. In their quest to force believers into Hinduism, Christians were forced to drink cow-dung-water, desecrate their own churches, and have their heads shaved. (A shaved head in this culture is the equivalent of wearing black for mourning. However, if your head is shaved when there has been no death, it is a shame, a stigma and generally regarded as a bad omen or curse among the regular Hindu community.) If none of these tactics worked, they were threatened with death: "If you don’t convert (to Hinduism) we will kill you – by cutting you up into pieces!"

Believer's home burned out

The government has not allowed any relief from NGOs. Churches or other missionary agencies have not been able to intervene. However, long-range plans include getting behind the missionaries already supported by Christian Aid for the restoration phase in rebuilding lives.

The situation is still serious, requiring fervent prayer as the only hope in overcoming the damage that has been done.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

As you pray, please remember that we are also called to pray for the enemy: mere mortals captured by the Evil One and used by him to inflict this chaos in the Christian community. Pray that forgiveness and reconciliation will bring glory to our wonderful Savior.

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