Back in January 1999, a date few would recall, an event of great significance occurred in Mayurbhani, a district in Odisha, India.
Eighteen years ago, a well-armed mob of about 50 people, attacked the vehicle where Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were sleeping. The angry mob set fire to the station wagon and Graham, Philip and Timothy Staines were heartlessly martyred.
When Gladys Staines, wife and mother, stood before the commission investigating the death of her husband and two sons, she made this amazing statement …
“The Lord God is always with me to guide me and help me to try to accomplish the work of Graham, but I sometimes wonder why Graham was killed and also what made his assassins behave in such a brutal manner on the night of 22/23 January 1999. It is far from my mind to punish the persons who were responsible for the death of my husband Graham and my two children. But it is my desire and hope that they would repent and would be reformed.”
Being reminded of the sacrifices men, women and children make for the sake of Christ often encourages our faith and the Staines’ martyrdom was a sacrifice which should never be forgotten. Through the testimony of their lives; their passion for the lost and a willingness to go with the Gospel into a hostile nation was a call they faithfully fulfilled.
Today in Odisha, persecution of Christians continues. Hindu factions are revolting against the Christians who only seek to live at peace with their neighbours. Hindu extremists are handing out leaflets, warning the Christians they will eradicate Christianity in the north of India by 2020.
Commenting on the spiritual climate in the area, our national contact said, “The situation on the ground is pathetic as the persecuted believers are absolutely vulnerable to the gruelling harshness and they are lacking the ability in meeting the very daily basic needs of life. There appears to be no help from any government quarter and many are forced to live on the streets today.”
Please remember the persecuted in India today in your prayers.