Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ten years later, we still remember

clip_image001[5]It is hard to fathom that shortly after midnight tonight, it will be ten years since Australian missionary, Graham Staines, 58, along with his two sons Philip,10,and Timothy, 8, were burnt alive by Hindu militants as they slept in their station wagon in Manoharpur, Orissa. clip_image001

At 12.20 a.m. on January 23 1999, a mob armed with sticks, axes and pitchforks surrounded the station wagon. And as they approached the vehicle, they began screaming. Dara Singh struck first, deflating the ties with an axe.  Others broke windows and prevented the Staines from escaping. They then set the vehicle alight.  No one survived the attack.

In the weeks that followed, Christians from India and around the world were inspired by the faith and forgiveness expressed by Gladys Staines towards the killers of her husband and sons.  In a recent interview with AsiaNews, Gladys said, "I cannot express that how I felt when I got the news of my husband and sons being burnt alive. I told my daughter Esther that though we had been left alone, we would forgive and my daughter replied, 'Yes, we will'."

Referring to the recent attacks on Christians in Kandhamal, she said,  "These sisters of mine in Kandhamal who have sacrificed their husbands for the sake of Christ - I tell them be strong, stay strong, and Christ will be your support, your companion, your guide and your strength. When God is working with us, nothing can be against us. I am in prayerful solidarity with them, I share their sufferings and I want to encourage them with hope. It is painful and sad but importantly - it is not how we live, but what matters is ‘whether we are in the will of God’. Support them with your solidarity and prayers....I forgive the other, because I have first received forgiveness from Jesus Christ - I have encountered the presence of Jesus in my life and this is the spirit I share. When we forgive, there is no bitterness and we live our lives and continue the task entrusted to us - with His grace and peace. These Kandhamal widows have also been touched by Jesus. All Christians who have known the intervention of Jesus in their lives will have this gift to forgive and to be the witnesses of His peace and presence. Support them with your solidarity and prayers. To the people of the world I say, do not give up hope, pray for India."

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