The Bible Society in India has received a desperate appeal from a pastor in troubled Orissa state for prayers for the persecuted Christian community there, as thousands remain scattered across makeshift government camps or are hiding in the homes of relatives and sympathetic Hindus.
The letter from Pastor Raj details the atrocities committed against Christians in the north eastern Indian state by radical Hindus angry over the murder of their leader in August. Although the attacks – including killings, rapes, and the destruction of homes – have ceased in the last few weeks, Christian groups in India say the situation on the ground remains precarious.
Raj described how he and his family escaped an attack on their home by seeking refuge in the house of a Christian friend, before fleeing to the forest where they remained for five days only to make their way to a camp some 10 km away. The camp, he reported, was sheltering around 5,000 people, many sick or elderly with no food provision. He and his family have since found shelter in a neighboring state.
"I don't know what to do but I ask for your kind prayers for my family and that you all lift up our town and our churches in your prayers," he wrote.
"People have lost hope, there is no help from the government and the terror is everywhere. My prayer and my faith are just that God, by his grace, can control the situation of death and suffering.
"Please let all the people of God know about what is happening to us so that they can pray."
The Bible Society in India is working in partnership with other organizations to meet the practical and spiritual needs of Christians in Orissa.
"Now more than ever, our brothers and sisters in India desperately need our prayers," said Ian McKay, Bible Society's Executive Director of International Program.
"These are extremely difficult times for them. Please pray for an end to the violence and that through the difficulties their faith is strengthened."