Perseverance and Love in the Midst of Persecution: Testimonies from Orissa and Karnataka

passion of ChristThe Hindu terrorists came and abused Christians in Orissa and ransacked Churches in Karnataka. They murdered men and raped woman. In the midst of all these, there are heroes of faith who loves those who persecuted them and are ready to face any violence for the love of Christ. Sakshi Research Team compiles a few of those stories that appeared in media.


 

Note: All of those stories except the 4th one are excerpted verbatim from the sources. Fourth one is a summary of a broadcast.  

 

  • Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati’s Associate Becomes A Christian  

 

Even the best efforts of the RSS and the VHP can’t stop a change of heart. Vijay Pradhan, 35, is hiding in Raikia. For eight years, Vijay Pradhan says, he was an active RSS worker. He worked with Saraswati (Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati) and conducted several reconversions. He also trained many RSS workers in the art of reconverting Christians to Hinduism. “I taught people what I was taught. That I must serve the country by fighting the Muslim and Christian religions, which are foreign to us. Our culture had to be saved. Then, one day a young pastor told me about Jesus. I was surprised at his courage in accosting me, but I was curious. This man told me that I could have eternal life with Jesus,” says Pradhan. The one-time RSS worker says he was confused after this encounter.

 

“I began searching for Jesus because I was intrigued by what I was told about him. On January 26, 1994, I challenged the creator. I asked why there are so many religions if there is one creator. I said whoever you are, I need to know you by name. I threatened that I would turn atheist if the Creator didn’t show himself. I couldn’t sleep at night. At 4.30 am, as I was getting ready for yoga, I saw a human-like figure. There was plenty of light. A voice said, ‘I am the one you are looking for,’” says Pradhan. He says his thought process changed after this. He began spreading the gospel and going to church.

 

“The RSS workers came to me and asked me why I had converted. They asked me how much money I was given. I used to ask people the same things. But I wasn’t paid. The RSS searched for me. I had to hide in the jungles. As long as there is trouble, I will hide,” he says. Pradhan says only those who are called by Jesus are the true converts. “Only the attraction of God can make them that. Hindus become Christians, they are never made into Christians. The reconversions by the VHP and the RSS are false. They are conducting a political war in the name of God.” 

 

Source: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main40.asp?filename=Ne130908CoverStory.asp 

 

  • Perseverance of a Dalit Woman

 

WHEN THEY came for Narmada Digal, she wasn’t there. She had fled, five children and mother-inlaw in tow, to the safety of the jungles a kilometre away. So, they set about what she left behind. A framed picture of Jesus, a Bible in Oriya, utensils in the kitchen, some clothes, and linen. By the time Narmada tiptoed back, her home was gone. What was left was still hot from the ashes, and smoking. The neighbours came to commiserate. Narmada took a good look, stood erect, and pulled her sari over her head. She began to pray.“Lord, forgive us our sins. Jesus, you are the only one. Save us from our misfortune. Free us, Lord.” The words are tumbling out. Narmada’s children have joined her. She is weeping as she pleads for deliverance. So is everybody else. It’s a simple bond that no human wrath can sever, a woman and her God. “I will die. But I won’t stop being a Christian,” Narmada says.

 

Source: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main40.asp?filename=Ne130908CoverStory.asp)

 

  •  Christian Dalit Woman who Was Tonsured But Puts Her Trust in the God who Wants Her

 I looked down, all the way as I walked. I felt unclothed, I tried to hide myself, as I walked. My body hurt, but my mind hurt more. As I was walking, the things I see everyday were peculiar to me. I was terrified. They wanted to tear my home and my body, and destroy my faith. As I lifted the pot of water to my head I … [felt her shaved head]. I kept thinking "there is a god that wants us," and I wanted to be free.

 

(Source: http://www.iptindia.org/pdf/orissa.pdf Name withheld on request by the source. Interviewed by Angana Chatterji) 

 

Note: Dalits were considered as untouchable and outcastes by the caste Hindus many of whom are now leading the persecution of these Dalit Christians.  

 

  • Christ who Transformed a Goonda to Become Servant for Mentally Disabled

 Sunil was once a goonda beating up the people. As he continued his lifestyle of harassing and torturing people, he became severely ill. He was not healed by the medicines. Then he was told to pray to Jesus who could heal him. Sunil prayed and he was healed. Now he is a pastor giving shelter and serving to the mentally disabled and physically disfigured people.  

 

Note: We have summarized this testimony from the following telecast.  (Source: NDTV 24 X 7, Faith under Fire, Ground Zero Mangalore, Telecasted on September 21, 2008) 

 

  • A Priest Who Is Ready to Serve Those Who Stripped and Abused Him

 They began our crucifixion parade," said Father Chellen. The gang of about 50 armed Hindus "beat us up and led us like culprits along the road" to the burned pastoral center. 

 

"There they tore my shirt and started pulling off the clothes of the nun. When I protested, they beat me hard with iron rods. Later, they took the sister inside (and) raped her while they went on kicking and teasing me, forcing (me) to say vulgar words," said the priest who has cuts, bruises and swollen tissue all over his body and stitches on his face. 

 

"Later both of us, half-naked, were taken to the street, and they ordered me to have sex with the nun in public, saying nuns and priests do it. As I refused, they went on beating me and dragged us to the nearby government office. Sadly, a dozen policemen were watching all this," he said. Angry at his plea to the police for help, the mob beat the bleeding priest again. Later, a government official and members of the mob took the priest and the nun to the police station, where Father Chellen said he was kicked in the face.

 

The four-hour ordeal ended when a senior police officer arrived in the evening," said Father Chellen. The priest said one of the most hurtful things about the incident was that some local Hindus whom he knew were watching the events and ignored his requests for help. 

 

However, Father Chellen says: Along with my physical wounds, Christ is healing by emotional scars; I feel no bitterness or anger; I am even prepared to serve those who attacked us. I am glad to be part of the rich history of persecution of the Catholic Church in India.” 

 

Note: This story is from two sources http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0804430.htm and http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=13124 

 

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  1. I happened to be in B’lore over the weekend, and attended the New Life Fellowship on Sunday (police were posted outside the hall, though not at the insistence of the church). The worship was so anointed and powerful that day – as the Church prayed for forgiveness for the attackers. They felt specially blessed for being persecuted for our Lord (Matt 5:11).

    During my bus from B’lore that night, they were playing a mainstream regional movie. The hero was out to avenge his parents’ death, and through the two and a half hours, he devised and executed innovative ways to kill the ‘villains’ and remain ‘innocent’. The name of the movie, the language or the hero’s name is not consequential – the story is an archetype, which we have internalised so many times – so much so that any story contrary to it, is doubted on its marketability and acceptance level.

    Last night, I met with a friend who was translating (from Oriya to English) the narration of the persecuted Christians in Orissa for a Christian broadcast. The video team had interviewed a lot of victims live at ground zero, so this friend got a good picture of what is. And he remembered some encouraging episodes from it: parents who hadn\’t seen their children since the massacre believing earnestly that nothing would have happened to them – for Jesus would protect them; a family who had seen their uncle being cut (not stabbed) into pieces by sword testifying that they would go back to the village later and become missionaries for Christ.

    It takes great courage to remind oneself when the enemy presses in hard, “Do not fear, the battle belongs to the Lord.”

    Sitting aloof on my computer (perhaps sparing a sigh when someone mentions this), am reminded of John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

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