Thursday, November 13, 2008

"The more the challenges, the stronger the Church's faith will deepen"

Today I read an interview with Bishop Purely Lyngdoh, the newly elected head of the Church of North India. I was heartened and encouraged by his words regarding the continuing tension in Orissa state and what such trials mean for the Church in India. Here are some excerpts:

Is the Church in India directionless regarding the continuing tension in Orissa?

I will talk on behalf of CNI. We are not discouraged. We are not directionless. The Church is not merely a human organization; it is the body of Christ. It is God's Church. The history of Christianity has been one of suffering and challenges. The Church has grown with each suffering. What the Church is today is the result of the sufferings it faced in the past. What is happening in Orissa and other parts of our country are very unfortunate. But they have not surprised us. The more the challenges, the stronger the Church's faith will deepen.

Many people suspect Orissa was a test case and predict similar events in other parts of India. Do you have strategies for facing such violence?

First, all Christians should come closer and look at this not as a regional problem but as a problem facing all Christians, all religious minorities.

Secondly, what is happening is not simply an attack on Christians but on our constitution, which guarantees religious freedom. They are attacking the very secular fabric of our nation, the very character of our country.

We have had some discussion among Churches and religious minorities. It is not only that we come together as Christians; we should also bring together other minority groups such as Muslims and Sikhs. Our recent synod had recommended taking up interfaith dialogue seriously. All religious minorities should come together, stand up for our rights and assert the need to safeguard our nation's democratic and secular principles and its religious freedom.

What is your message for Indian Christians?

Let us be faithful to God; faithful to one another. Let us make a difference in this country. That's what Jesus said. Let people see the good works we do; not that they should praise us but give glory to God.

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