10 Years After Deadly Riots by Hindu Nationalists, Innocent Indian Christians Pray, Cry, and Wait for Justice

A group of Christians meet together near their rebuilt church in Kandhamal. In 2008, almost every church in the area was destroyed by Hindu nationalists. Local Christian leaders report there are now twice as many churches than in 2008. | John Fredricks

A widow in Kandhamal, India, folds her hands in prayer. In 2008 a mob of Hindu nationalists murdered her husband before her eyes for their Christian faith. After 10 years, she along with other widows who faced the same fate, still gather together to encourage each other, and worship Jesus together.

A group of seven women in Southern India come together to talk, to cry, and to pray.

They come together as Christians, they mourn together as women whose husbands were murdered right in front of their eyes. Some of them were holding their husbands as they were brutally stabbed to death in the chest and face. One of them painstakingly reminisces of the day she saw her mother burned alive.

The women witnessed the most heinous and extreme forms of injustice, creating a lifetime of afflictions, held firmly within a deep emotional scar. The wounds of which are stitched together by steadfast faith that their Lord will deliver them from the pain of this life, and that one day they will reunite with their husbands in Heaven.

Their entire village region was ravaged by hate-filled actions. Every house was burned to the ground. Those who didn’t lose their father, lost their brother. Those who didn’t lose their brother, lost their husband.

In northern India, a small car zips through the busy streets of Kashmir. The driver, Arif, spent his whole life saving enough money to buy this taxi, known in their culture as an ‘auto rickshaw.’ With every passenger that steps into his vehicle comes an opportunity for him to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In a state that is 99.5 percent Muslim and violent toward individuals of any other religion or set of beliefs, this is what he does.

He shares this Gospel in that car to the most rejecting of souls; that was, until locals caught on and burned his auto rickshaw, his livelihood, the way he supports his family, to the ground.

The vehicle he drives today, he rents. He does this to keep his business alive, but does so at a major cost. That cost, that burden, is no greater than the burdens that the nonbelievers whom he preaches to carry with them in their lives every day, and so he continues to proclaim the name of Jesus.

All around him are armed military and police. To his right there is a meeting place where militants and extremists come to stone people to death. Amid the chaos, a light shines bright out of an auto rickshaw that navigates through these streets of hate, spreading love through evangelism.

Hundreds of kilometers away in Odisha, a Christian leader stands on top of his roof, looking out into his community. The backdrop is dominated by massive mountains and a verdant jungle that harmoniously make up the scenery. He points at several men working in the street, one by one, identifying them as some of the arsonists that worked together to burn down his home and every other Christian home in the area.

His house has since been reconstructed; today this is where he lives, where he serves, regardless of the conditions and persecution he faces. This is what life looks like for a Christian in much of rural India.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Christian Post, Will Gerhard