Indian churches ‘awash in tears’ and water after attacks, floods
Rioters disrupted the Sunday worship of a 25-member church meeting in a house in the east Indian state. The minister, Shankhanand Baugh, and his congregation fled as the mob approached.
“To quench their thirst of hatred, (the rioters) put the house to flames,” said Nehemiah Gootam, director of the Kakinada School of Preaching in Andhra Pradesh state, south of Orissa. Baugh is a graduate of the Kakinada school. The mob found a young woman hiding near the burning house and threw her inside.
“She was burned alive,” Gootam said.
Rioters also attacked three orphanages that had applied for financialaid from Lifeline of Hope, a church-supported ministry in Kalispell,Mont. Workers at the orphanages had completed the ministry’sapplication and assessment process, said Jeff Timmons, orphanageprograms director, and were waiting for on-site visits from theministry’s personnel when the attacks began.
“There is no safety for us. Please pray for our protection,” oneorphanage administrator wrote in a message to Lifeline of Hope. Armedrioters looted the orphanage before setting it on fire.
“They raped two of our young girls,” said the administrator, whose namewas withheld by Lifeline of Hope.
“All the children ran away to theforest for their lives. Still, children are missing.”
The attacks began in late August after a prominent Hindu leader inOrissa was killed in a grenade attack. Supporters blamed Christians forthe attack, although a Marxist political group took credit, and some ofthe resulting protests turned violent.
Christians comprise less than 3 percent of the state’s population, saidNilendra Chhatria, minister for the Bolangir church in Orissa. Thoughno church members were reported injured, at least 70 people claimingChristianity as their faith were killed before police restored order inthe state, Chhatria said.
Just north of Orissa, India’s Bihar state is awash in floodwaters. Thebanks of the Kosi river overflowed recently, swallowing thousands ofacres of farmland and forcing hundreds of thousands of people fromtheir homes.
Bihar has few Churches of Christ, said Ken Grimm, a missionary whoworks with Lifeline of Hope. Evangelism there “is a very difficult,uphill job with much effort to produce few results,” he said.
Massih Tudu, a minister in the city of Purnia, Bihar, traveled south toChennai in the state of Tamil Nadu — where Churches of Christ arestronger — to request aid for flood victims. Ministers have asked about70 churches in the region to donate whatever rice, oil, sugar, tea andsoap they can spare for the victims, evangelist David Martin said.
“Almost all the churches have agreed to collect,” Martin said.