8 July 2016

Family receives a new home and a new start following India riots

Hari* and Rani* lost everything in the riots of August 2008 in Odisha (formerly known as Orissa). They were forced to live in a makeshift hut and struggled to make ends meet, but Open Doors partners have been able to provide them with a new home and a new start.

The violence of 2008 was triggered after the death of Swami Laxmanananda, a leading Hindu extremist who had been encouraging anti-Christian activity for years. He was killed by a Maoist guerrilla group, but his supporters were convinced that Christians were responsible, and went on a rampage within hours of his death. 120 people were killed and 50,000 people displaced.

Hari says: "We had to leave the little we had and flee to the nearby jungle during the attack. Our house with all our belongings and some grain stock we had saved was burnt completely. My bicycle was taken away too."

Rani says: "Our family lived in a tent made of plastic tarpaulin and mud. Because of the scarcity of water we were able to yield little from our land and thus worked for daily wages in other people's fields. We also sold firewood and leaves we could collect from the forest to ensure one-off meals for our family."

Open Doors partners supported the victims of the riots with food, shelter, medical assistance, trauma care and legal aid, and continue to provide long-term support to believers in the region.

Open Doors partners funded the construction of a house for Hari and Rani and give them a pair of bullocks to help Hari with cultivation. "By God's grace and Open Doors initial contribution I was able to reap much more profits from farming. Open Doors also provided a beautiful house we never imagined we could own," Hari says, his face beaming.

Hari has been able to purchase six acres of land for irrigation with the profits from his farm. He was also able to purchase a motor for pumping water. He cultivates different vegetables which he sells in the market.

Hari says, "I was so sad when the Hindu extremists took my old bicycle during the riot but now I am blessed with a new motor-bike. We have also bought furniture for our house, which we could never have thought about before."

Rani says, "Another blessing is that our son is studying very well - he receives tuition assistance from the Bridge School run by Open Doors volunteers. Our child would never have been able to cope with studies if it wasn't for this Bridge School."

Bridge schools provide two to three hours of tuition a day to support children in their learning; the free education provided for children by the government is not always of a high standard, making this additional tuition essential.

Hari and Rani also attended an adult literacy class conducted by Open Doors volunteers, and today the couple can read and write.

"Before attending the classes we could not even read the Bible but after attending the adult literacy classes we read the Bible daily. We can write also. We are growing spiritually. Our lives are better and we praise God for it. We are blessed financially and spiritually," says Rani.

Open Doors works through local partners in India to provide persecuted Christians with Bibles and Christian literature, holistic training, livelihood and community development, adult literacy programmes, vocational education, advocacy support, legal seminars, and urgent aid and relief.

Open Doors is also running an advocacy campaign encouraging supporters in the UK and Ireland to write to the Indian High Commission about the persecution that continues to be faced by Christians in India.

India is number 17 on the Open Doors World Watch List, which ranks the severity of persecution faced by Christians in 50 countries. India has increased from number 28 in 2014 and number 21 in 2015.

Photo of Hari and Rani - more available on request:

*name changed for security reasons

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Note to editors:

For more information contact Open Doors Press Office on 01993 777377

The full interview with this secret Christian is available on the Open Doors website

Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians for 60 years. Last year supporters in the UK and Ireland raised over £11.7 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources, in over 60 countries.