Christmas Eve celebration launches 'Black Christmas Day' in Kandhamal District, India

January 02, 2008

On the afternoon of December 24, 2007, many Christians in the Kandhamal District of India were preparing for their usual Christmas festivities. A quarrel broke out after a group of people approached one of the tents voicing their disapproval of the decorations being used for the Christmas celebration. A scuffle ensued which escalated into open fire on the Christians, resulting in gunshot wounds to three of them. However, it is believed that this was a strategy instigated by a radical Hindu guru: the "quarrel" quickly and methodically erupted into a widespread campaign of terror against Christians throughout the entire Kandhamal District of Orissa State.

Churches, businesses, orphanages, schools and homes have been completely destroyed. Some were bombed. Crosses were torn down and churches desecrated. In just one of the district villages, over 400 homes were broken into and looted. Tables, chairs, sound systems and equipment of all kinds burned while police stood by – as spectators to the torchings.

Desperate Christian believers have become refugees in their homeland, as they flee into the jungle areas for survival.

The total impact of this persecution is not yet known, but it has been widespread and devastating. Over 5,000 people have been affected by the attack. People from all Christian denominations escaped with only the clothing on their backs. Fanatics are demanding Christians recant their faith before returning home. They have not given in, so they continue to suffer. All of their valuable documents, personal belongings, medical supplies, money, or any other kind of meager security has been taken away. Pastor Nayak gives this heartbreaking testimony: "I can only feel despair and helplessness seeing them in this pathetic condition. They have nothing, and they are in shock; it shows in their dark eyes and drawn, haggard faces."

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