Death, Destruction, and Dedication in Eastern India

In the fall of 2008 the Indian state of Orissa was rocked by a shocking wave of violence. Tens of thousands of Hindus went on a month-long rampage against local Christians. By the time the violence ended more than 60 pastors were killed, mostly beaten to death by mobs, and 100 churches or church related buildings were burned. I have just returned from doing 3 days of basic ministry training for 130 pastors and other leaders in Orissa. It was the most difficult trip I have ever taken. Not because of the forty hours of travel to get there, or the large furry rodents running at my feet as we ate in the hotel restaurant to go with the two others the kitchen staff had just killed and swept out the door. It wasn’t because of the garbage and filth that lined the streets and choked every lake, pond or canal. It wasn’t the smell of raw sewage flowing in the gutters or stepping in one of the countless cow patties left by the animals that roamed freely, everywhere. It wasn’t even the concern for my safety that my hosts had after a gang of men tried to disrupt our training. (From that point on I was not allowed to be on the street and was never alone expect when I got back to my hotel room.) All of that I expect as part of the deal. I have traveled enough to know that’s how it is and that someplace has to be the worst yet. You simply have to learn how to roll with that.

What made this so difficult was seeing the video tape from the news station that showed people being beat to death because of their faith, seeing the homes and churches that were burned, talking to pastors who hid in the woods for a month while people brought them food. Seeing all that and then seeing that these Christians continues to press ahead, longing for ways to reach out and serve the very neighbors who attacked them and then comparing it to our own situations in the west, THAT is what made it so difficult and painful. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t, and still can’t, shake the words of Jesus out of my head, “to whom much is given is much required”.

You see, even though these pastors have theological degrees and are well-educated in doctrine, church administration, preaching and the like, they have received no training in basic disciple-making, community outreach, the pastors family life, or multiplication through church planting. The training we did was the only known training conference for pastors EVER in this area. The average evangelical church member in the USA or England or South Africa has tons more training and resources in basic ministry than these pastors of churches in India. On top of that a single pastor there typically oversees 6 or 7 churches at the same time. They have nothing. Yet they press ahead in the face of life threatening opposition, seeking to learn how to love and serve their neighbor, their enemy. They are doing more with nothing than most in the west are doing with everything.

When I finished a session on The Good Samaritan and told them you do “What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are”, a number of them said that they felt guilt and shame because they had no idea that ministry was supposed to be about reaching out to those God puts in your path, those who are clearly in need. They had a time of repentance right there.

The typical reaction when hearing about this is for western Christians to express how grateful they are for the blessings God has given us, our freedom, resources, safety, etc. But as we are prone to do, such sentiments, while a good start, fall woefully short of what is really needed. What we  need to do is ask, “God, what do you require of me in light of all my freedom, blessings and resources”. Again I say, “to whom much is given is much required”. It simply will not do to stop with a recognition of our good fortune. We must go the next step and ask how that fortune is to be used by God so that others will come to know and love Him. In Orissa, Christians are asking that question in spite of the fact that the answer could lead to their death. How much more should we be asking that question ourselves?

5 thoughts on “Death, Destruction, and Dedication in Eastern India

  1. Robert Johnson

    I can’t even imagine it Dan. I know we are blessed. But I don’t really know it. Not like I would had I seen what you are talking about. I pray that my blessings don’t hinder my walk with Him and that I would be so thankful, and use everything I have in me to serve Him.

    I can’t wait to hear more about the trip.

  2. Your word picture sounds so much a part of the same cloth that Bob described many years ago when he went to India on a business trip, but in your story the main characters never are able to get out of the very dire and formidable circumstances. I had hoped things would be better. Also, your post gives me pause to reflect anew over the often desperately sad arc mails that come through gmo from that part of the world. It all makes me want to cry, but tears won’t help. You helped. Seeds were planted and plants were nourished. Thank God.

  3. Interesting post – I had little idea how much religious warfare existed between Christians and the Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic majorities in India. I know many Christians think this is because they are in the right and as Jesus said would be persecuted for holding that position. However, Jesus never said to establish buildings with congregations and nor did Jesus say to slam others of different faiths. He told his disciples to go town to town and upon coming to a town, inquire who within the town is worthy/receptive, might have ears to hear/eyes to see, according to the example Jesus gave when he delivered info to the public. And then they were to move on to the next town, thus a transient delivery of the new and updated good news about the Kingdom of God in the literal heavens. Additionally, what was it that Jesus said/did that would be met by persecution from others? Telling people that they must change religions, making Jesus their savior by accepting Jesus into their hearts and thereby being “born again” presumably of spirit by simply saying such works however well meaning? Is that all there is to it and why would that be something someone else would find threatening so much so that they would want to blow up another’s location of believers? Despite the fact that those words are mostly all misconstrued from what Jesus meant (as evident when we look at their Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic meanings in context to the overall Jesus mission with lots of cross references).

    What most yielded persecution of early Christians was when disciples shared the “formula” that when applied (worked for(real worship)) consistently and in the presence of an incarnate (in the carnal – thus physical) member of that Kingdom of God could yield a true spirit birth. This formula which is the Overcoming Jesus demonstrated that all this teachings pertained to was very distressing to all comfortable religionists and secularists as it was ANTI human family coherence that is for those who it spoke to. It wasn’t anti human family for everyone as it wasn’t meant for everyone to see as what they wanted, which is what religions do, formatting their system of beliefs around having a type of club membership with dues and paraphernalia and practices and techniques and philosophies that together people then believe is a pathway to Godliness. (and to a degree it all IS a pathway to Godliness IF it includes dialog with our Creator and yes through the name of the last representative that demonstrates the exact same Formula requirements for discipleship which no human will be able to do and attract many followers, but includes NOT becoming glued to thinking that we have FOUND our ultimate pathway to God in our participation in that religious practice to where when we are presented with the returned incarnate member(s) from the Kingdom of God we look at the updates and such as foreign and alien so much so that we fear them and listen to those leaders in the religions that tell us not to pay attention to that “new age stuff” or we’ll be giving into the devil’s taking of your soul.

    The devil is in ALL the places. The Kingdom of God sees to it that we have advasaries(satans) to tempt us so that when we ask Them for help and we try to apply what we’re given, we grow a little better graft to the Kingdom of God’s branch, again through whoever from their kingdom is serving as our midwife/branch 2000 yrs ago Jesus until the return which I see a great deal of evidence of in the examples and teachings of Ti and Do, whom I believe are Father and Son returned and who have left their incarnation but are still available by talking to them in our privacy.

    Thus there is no need for a building or priest or anyone to take our next best step towards service to the Kingdom of God. No seminary to join, no book to study (though studying the records of past incarnations is informative, though becomes largely shrouded from the most real aspects through translations that always dilute the unadulterated truth into a nearly complete illusion termed religion or atheism(spiritual new age or not), it’s equally diluted though juxtaposed illusions.

    It’s tough to see through all this and seeing through it is given us or we would never be able to do it and even seeing through it guarantees nothing if it remains simply intellectual – in our minds. We must offer service to the Kingdom of God repeatedly and look for the indicators of how we might serve Their will on Earth despite it’s unpopularity. Religion’s are all populist organizations and generally hate one another because of how they have become glued to one another’s exclusive self righteousness.

    Christians now are the flesh largely of pagans and atheists and Jews, etc of the past that have in their genetic record the experience and hatreds for what Jesus really taught (that Paul was largely used to establish as a wolf in sheep’s clothing) and before that Moses thus are reaping their karma (if I can use a term that in the old testament and new is founded) and are therefore one of the biggest forms of anti-Christ as they unknowingly are anti the ways and teachings and required formula as given by Jesus that other religions all have deeply hidden in their sacred records, Vedas, etc. as the Kingdom of God created the entire planet and has their hands among many peoples over many generations and even many former civilizations separated by recycling periods that essentially refurbish the garden soul growing environment.

  4. I left so many loopholes in my previous comment as usual. I apologize for my difficult to follow comments. I am just not that good at expressing nearly unheard of perspectives and their many ramifications & insinuations we can each draw from all we read.

    When I was saying the it was the “formula” jesus gave that was most what provoked his and his disciples persecution, which of course went against what had morphed from Moses teachings now termed Judism with it’s heirarchal organizational leadership that hated anything that they would term blasphemy and thus a challenge to their claimed authority of godliness to their constituents and saying it was anti-human family, what I meant by that, was that it was attempting to remove a human being from their dedication to the family structure (which was of course natural and good before that) to a dedication to a new family structure, but one that was no longer mammalian (human) based, the Kingdom of God’s family of Minds, actually a chain of Minds, thus Holy or whole/complete MINDs. Anyone that thinks this is an exaggeration of the Jesus teachings need only read the 4 gospels again and pay attention to all the things jesus said about one’s human family in addition to how he gave his example.

    paraphrased quotes:
    “who is my mother, brother, etc, but those who do the will of my Father”
    “ones opponents will be those in one’s own family”
    “he who does not hate mother, father, sister, brother, children cannot be my disciple”
    which is in line with:
    “love the lord your god with ALL your heart, mind, soul, strength”

    He was against marriage FOR THOSE WHOM Chose to be his disciples to reap the promised reward:
    “those who are accounted worthy to attain to the resurrection (standing up again/born again of flesh) neither marry or are given in marriage but are like the angels(messenger servants).”

    the examples of he being the bridegroom and believers becoming the bride, saving themselvles for the bridegroom

    the example of someone not following him because they wanted to stay around to take care of their father in whcih jesus said, “let the dead bury the dead” using death in two contexts as those that physically die and those that spiritually die as they choose to not hook up with the rep from the kingdom of god that can midwife them through their spirit birth to real lasting “LIFE”.

    there are dozens of more examples I am quite sure.

    Now this doesn’t mean He was anti family for all and it doesn’t mean we treat one another in family or not in any way short of the way we want to be treated, even our enemies, though he also taught to try to steer clear of enemies, while not doing so so much that we don’t put our light on the top of the hill for all to potentially see and benefit from.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s