We learned today that a ministry partner in India, one who runs an orphanage in Delhi, has been arrested in Odisha, an Indian state hostile to Christians. Pia (not her real name) had been visiting relatives in Odisha when someone accused her of abducting the children in her orphanage and contacted the police.
Most of the 13 children who live with Pia and her husband, Mukanda, are from Christian families massacred during the 2008 Kandhaml riots of Odisha. In 2008, Hindus in the area went on a rampage against Christians. Three hundred ten villages were impacted, with 4,640 homes, 252 churches, and 13 schools torched during the attacks. More than 18,000 people were injured and 50,000 displaced. Hindus have also been attacked for consorting with Christian relatives. Conversion is illegal in Odisha and is said to be the source of riots.
The children in Auntie Pia’s home were abandoned during the 2008 riots, and some witnessed parents murdered and butchered on railway tracks. Others watched their homes burn and sisters or mothers raped and brutalized.
David C Cook’s J127 Club, the Faith Club, is housed in Auntie Pia’s home. The hallmark of J127 Clubs is a whole life discipleship curriculum (Life on Life) —spiritual formation, character development, and life skills—tailored to children who’ve faced extreme trauma. Curriculum lessons involving trauma, forgiveness, emotional healing and managing angee are vital for these children.
Auntie Pia and Uncle Mukanda are a stabilizing force for these children, a source of nurturing, safety and the love of family. Needless to say, the arrest of Auntie Pia potentially traumatizes them all over again.
- For protection over the children’s hearts and minds. Recently a lesson on self-discipline impacted the kids. They learned that just as Nehemiah endured hardship to build strong walls for Gods’ chosen city, they too could build a stronger fortress of faith in their own lives. Pray that God would use this incident to build strong walls of faith in them.
- Pray for physical protection over the children and Uncle Mukanda. There may be a need for them to relocate until this incident blows over.
- For the swift and immediate release of Auntie Pia. Also, for her faith to endure in prison, and for her witness of Christ to shine through.
- For Auntie Pia’s health and wellbeing. She recently expressed health concerns to us in a quarterly report.
- That the truth may come out and justice served.
- And as always, for God to be glorified in this situation.
Here’s a brief history between Christians and Hindus in Odisha, particularly in the district of Kandhamal:
The Kandha tribe makes up 80 percent of the population in the district of Kandhamal. This people group follows tribal and animistic forms of Hinduism. The second largest community is the non-tribal Pana caste, and is comprised mostly of Hindus who’ve converted to Christianity. The caste includes a growing number of Dalits (also called untouchables) who’ve come to Christ in large numbers. The conversions to Christianity have disrupted the socioeconomic balance—and in the Hindu’s eyes, disrupted karma.
We will keep you updated on this situation. In the meantime, please intercede on behalf of Auntie Pia, Uncle Mukanda, and the children of the Faith Club in Delhi.
Update: In 2018, David C Cook transferred oversight of the J127 clubs to an in-country partner which continues to shepherd and grow this program. By supporting David C Cook’s Life on Life curriculum, you will be helping support this program as well.