The past 3 weeks, we've been hearing of the stories of people suffering in Orissa. Many tribal, and backward class people are suffering down there, because they are known as Christians, and they are sharing their faith and increasing. I have not been to Orissa in person to witness any suffering, but here's what I've gathered from a Social worker, who went to survey the place:
"Some hundreds or thousands are spending their cold wintry nights in forests out of fear of life. They're scantily clothed, their little belongings are no more. They're eating whatever comes their way, like the animals of the wild."
We all know of the gruesome murder of Graham Staines and his children way back in 1999. Even that incident came after such clashes took shape. Take a macro-picture of the series of events that have raked this up since December 24, 2007 and one will start to question why one Swami Laxmananand Saraswati, a VHP Leader bereft of any peaceful work must intervene with his group of body guards in the Christmas festive arrangements, and the ensuing arguments which have resulted in a small clash, which is now known as an attack on the Swami's life.
To read this Swami's version, go to The Sunday Indian Magazine link (You may have to register for free): http://www.thesundayindian.com/13012008/storyd.asp?sid=3667&pageno=3
What happened next is that some hundreds of people got killed (official figures are some 50) and 54 Churches destroyed (this may be outdated, and the official figure is something). That's not the end. Many more are targeted still in many other places. The fear still haunts people in Orissa. The tension is not over yet.
Is a Swami's life worth some 100 (hundreds of) other people's lives? What saint can propagate or impel the killing of people and destruction of Holy places (read Churches)? What human can allow innocent people's houses to be torn down? Are these are our leaders? Do we protect such lives which can breathe only Devastation?
In the narrators own words, "It was all a well-schemed idea to attack and destroy churches." Even the authorities seem party to it when they say that nothing in there is seriously wrong, and the local police is not allowing outsiders to get into the affected places. Well, they may be doing that to stop political unrest; damn the political leaders, but, what of the people dying?
Ask a question to any VHP Leader "What are you trying to do?"and pat comes the reply, "Protecting one’s religion should be a person's fundamental right. To attack someone’s faith is violence. Anybody indulging in violence should be punished." ( Vishwa Hindu Parishad General Secretary Dr Pravin Togadia's remarks to The Sunday Indian Magazine). How about applying that to all Indian' non-Christian organizations abroad across the world, Mister?
Christian missionaries have long been known for their steadfast Spirit of service and devotion to serve the poor and needy. The closest and greatest example being Mother Teresa, who poured out her life for India. If someone is touched by the love she has shown and accepts the faith she professes, should the person be harmed, or should Mother Teresa be killed? Or should her Ashram be burnt down because she is converting?
Here are some answers to people who think Conversion is what Christians are up to and make that a reason for hooliganism and destruction--
First: No one can convert another person. All a Christian does is to share the love s/he has received in Christ, and if that love touches the person's life, s/he chooses to convert. That process of transformation is Spiritual, not physical. Nothing else matters. Period.
Second: The Church of Christ is not made of walls that anyone can go and destroy. It is made of people. As long as Christ lives in people's hearts, the Church is alive. And the foundation of Church is the Solid Rock - Jesus Christ.
Can someone stop that? Can VHP? Or any other organization by terrorizing people with their attacks? At least I don't think so. More the oppression, more the fight to break free!
Lastly... Orissa is in news lately for such attacks, but there are many such incidents happening across India which do not receive any attention from media nor the authorities. We don't want to go converting the criminals involved in these attacks by a rod. Rather, we just unite in praying for all that they may receive forgiveness, and that the sovereign Lord may have mercy on them!
May God give wisdom to those in authority and all the ministers to rule India in a just manner. May God provide for the Suffering and also bless the persecutors! May all come to know His Saving Grace! In Jesus' name... To all who read this -
"Jesus Loves You."