In 2008, hundreds of Christians in India were forced to convert to Hinduism as fanatic groups and lynch mobs terrorised villages issuing a stark ultimatum: convert or die.
The violent attacks left many dead and around 50,000 people homeless as churches and homes were burnt to the ground.
Since that time, persecution and violence against Christians in India has not faltered and continues routinely to this day in all parts of the country.
The government remains apathetic to the problem and these fanatic groups are the cause of widespread trouble.
Often most affected by persecution in India are the vulnerable. When men are killed, women are left on their own, unable to earn money to support their families. Widows, the elderly and children suffer and many are left orphaned.
Since 2008, many people have been become homeless, moving from village to village to try to earn a living. Other Christians are controlled by village leaders who will not provide proper identity certification, rendering it impossible for many to work, study and even leave town.
Women and girls are the most affected group, denied justice and basic assistance throughout their entire lives. Hundreds of Christian women are living without identification in appalling conditions, unable to earn an income while enduring discrimination for their faith daily.
Despite this, Christians remain faithful and strong in the Lord.
Last year, Voice of the Martyrs Australia reached out by offering a practical solution to the need and supplied a group of 25 Christian women with sewing machines.
Along with the sewing machines, these women were provided with five months of training. Through this, they became proficient in sewing and tailoring, and learnt how to train others.
After also receiving some working capital, each of these women is now working from home making garments for men, women and children. They then take their handiwork to a local church which distributes them for sale at markets and shops. This gives them a sustainable income source.
There is growing demand for these items and each of the women who received a sewing machine has been able to teach and train others around her, furthering the impact.
Soon enough, local villages and churches saw the success of this project and have reached out with their own proposals so they too can access these sewing machines.
There are plans in 2020 to distribute almost double the number of sewing machines across this region.
“From 2008 to 2018, I experienced much persecution. Because I didn’t want to deny my faith, I was forced to move from place to place. I was unable to earn a steady income but I was also unable to receive any government aid or medical help. I couldn’t manage the needs of myself and my family.
“Before I received the sewing machine, I would collect firewood in the jungle to sell at the markets. I would move the wood all day and I was not happy in this job.
“When I came to Lokebadi in 2019, I applied for one of the sewing machines and when I received one I began to sew my own clothes. Soon, I brought three young ladies who didn’t have any training to teach them how to stitch and they began to help and we produced clothes together to sell.
“It gave me great joy to share this with them and to build their faith in the Lord. I am so glad that even in difficult times, I found help and I am able to help other persecuted women too. God has brought such happiness to all of us.”
Sujanti is originally from a small village in Gunjibadi. In 2008, she lost everything and spent her days roaming from village to village.
Sujanti said she was always down and had no peace in her life due to her suffering. While she worked hard every day, she could not afford medical care or education for her children and worried for them constantly.
In 2019, she was given the opportunity to apply for a sewing machine. After receiving it, she trained in tailoring and learnt how to stitch children’s garments. Before long she was able to sell her wares at the market to earn
Sujanti has also reached out to others, helping three young women by training them. They now make children’s clothes together, earning a steady income that they never thought possible. It has brought great joy to their lives.
Sujanti was especially happy that she can now give back to her own church since she has been blessed.
In 2008, during the time of great persecution, Nilondri lost all of her family members. She had no income and found herself on the streets for over 10 years, constantly wondering when her next meal would be.
In 2019, she had a chance to enrol herself in the sewing machine project. This encouraged her so much and she began learning to stitch materials for women and children.
Soon enough, when her work was consistent, she started helping two widow believers who were also without an income. She gave them the opportunity to train themselves on her sewing machine and now, along with her, they are earning an income together.
She is so thankful for her sewing machine as she no longer worries about finances.
After the 2008 attacks and ongoing harassment, Lilima lost all her property and sources of income. Due to the ongoing persecution she was often chased and would flee from place to place.
She eventually found refuge in Lokebadi.
This is when she says the Lord opened a way for her. She, like the other women, began training and received her own sewing machine. Once she began selling clothes at the markets, she took on three young ladies with no experience and trained them.
Lilima has been instrumental in bringing hope and joy to the lives of these women.
“I am so happy that the dear Lord gave me a source of earning. More than this, I am happy I was able to help three other friends. It is my joy to see them smiling.”
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