Christmas in Orissa Heralds Glimmer of Hope for Reconciliation

February 4, 2009

Christian Aid received a report from the India Evangelistic Association (IEA) indicating an end to the year-long violence in Orissa.

In the midst of continual strife and turmoil, a small glimmer of hope shined in one area: "It is reported that the Deberi Sahi Church (under the jurisdiction of the Daringbadi police station), was able to celebrate Christmas this year without incident. Even more remarkable, hundreds of Hindus joined to celebrate with us! This is a good sign of reconciliation between these two communities," writes Missionary Pran Ranjan Parichha.

It has been over a year since the infamous "Black Christmas" of Orissa on December 24, 2007. Hindu fanatics attacked Christians, burning their homes and churches, and forcing them out of their villages into the surrounding jungles. Over 5,000 lives were affected and 50 lives were lost.

"IEA church buildings at Adasapanga, Gandagaon, Dudukagaon, Murgiguda, and Borikia in the Kondhmal district have been badly damaged. In addition, the homes of nine of our workers were destroyed. Two of them are afraid to return to their villages because activists are still targeting missionaries and other Christian leaders.

Parichha says, "Peace is not only the responsibility of the Indian government, but the Christian community as well. Christian leaders, particularly in Orissa, but India in general, need to be aware of the situation and answer these many needs. We are sincerely grateful to friends from overseas who also stood with us in prayer and provided financial support through Christian Aid."

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