As many of you are celebrating in the New Year Monday night I should be somewhere over the Atlantic on the way to my fourth India trip. As always, I'm looking forward to seeing the brethren there and praying we can have doors of opportunity open to us.
Travel to India wouldn't be, well, travel to India without something dramatic going on. Two years ago it was the Mumbai train bombings, last year it was a massacre committed by separatists in the Northeast. This year it is anti-Christian riots in Orissa state:
Twelve village churches were burned and ransacked in eastern India over Christmas as Hindu extremists clashed with members of the Christian minority.
One person died and more than 25 were injured in the violence in Orissa state.
It was sparked after Hindu hard-liners objected to the scale of a Christmas Eve prayer vigil, according to the Catholic Bishops Conference in New Delhi....
The violence is part of periodic flare-ups between Christians and followers of India's dominant religion who accuse the missionaries of trying to convert low-caste Hindus.
Missionary activity is a source of serious tension in parts of India where hard-line Christian groups talk of "liberating" low-caste Hindus.
Rising anti-missionary sentiment has caused several Indian state governments to pass anti-conversion laws which India's Christians - who represent 2.5 per cent of the country's 1.1 billion population - are fighting in court.
On the bright side, none of us are traveling to Orissa state. However, this year one of our team members ran into visa problems, the first for anyone in our groups traveling to India.
A lot of the unrest is a reaction by the fundamentalist Hindus against modernization. They view Christianity as a Western religion in many ways. Of course, the real threat to them isn't Christianity, but secularism resulting from a more educated population. Few educated individuals are going to believe Hindu mythology with much fervor. It's much easier to riot against something tangible like Christianity than secularism.
Please pray for our safe journey and that our time in India will go well. I hope to post updates here as Internet access and time allows.