Riots broke out in the streets as Hindu nationalists demanded revenge.
The body of a Hindu monk had been found dead and, needing a scapegoat, Indian Christians had been pinned with the blame.
By the time it was over, almost 100 Christians had been murdered, 300 churches had been looted, and 6,000 houses destroyed, leaving over 50,000 Christians homeless.
Yet, in a profound display of God’s Grace, the Christians of India memorialized these riots last year by offering forgiveness to the perpetrators.
And what is happening as a result should be front page news, but the media’s silence is deafening.
Last year marked 10 years since the worst Christian persecution to come out of India in recent memory. Though the years have passed, this event is still fresh in many Indian minds.
However, even though the pain of persecution is still there, there is also something else that has been replacing the anger in hearts of those affected by this violence: forgiveness.
It all started back in August of 2008 when the body of slain Hindu monk, Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, was paraded through the streets of Kandhamal. The death of this prominent monk sent rages to the minds of many Hindus.
Some of these Hindus blamed his murder on Christians, an accusation that was unfounded, and just the mention of this blame pushed the people to incite violence unseen in India in the modern era.
According to the National Catholic Register, after everything was over, there were nearly 100 Christians killed, 300 churches and 6,000 houses plundered and ripped apart with violence. This all happened after these Christians refused to recant their Faith.
Because of the Faith that they would not deny, around 56,000 Christians were left homeless and fleeing for their lives.
Many fled to the jungle and were forced to live outside of Kandhamal for months, or even years, before they could return to get back some semblance of their former lives.
And as if the loss of their lives, the lives of their loved ones, and their homes were not enough, there was more injustice to come.
Although there were almost 6,500 people arrested for crimes related to this violent persecution, many of the charges were acquitted and not treated with the seriousness they deserved.
Today, there are still ongoing cases, but many hold out little hope of much justice being done.
Add to all of that the fact that some Hindu Nationalists have admitted that the whole event was planned ahead of time by those looking for an excuse to incite violence against Christians.
They knew that parading the slain Swami through the streets would be a catalyst for this violence.
With everything that has happened to them, many would not blame the Christians of Kandhamal if they continued to hold a grudge, but instead, just as Christ has instructed us, their hearts are turning to forgiveness.
Yes, though they have lost so much, many are willing to forgive those who brought on such travesty all those years ago.
And what about those involved with the Hindi mob? Well, it seems their hearts have been softening, as well.
Since that day back in August 2008, many of those who were involved in the violent attacks on their fellow Indians have since apologized.
But even more amazing, many of the persecutors have since repented and become Christians!
“They tried to make us into Hindus. But what has happened is the opposite: Our numbers are increasing now,” said Paul Pradhan, a local Christian who was forced to flee during the riots.
That’s right, dozens of these former Hindu Nationalists have converted to Christianity.
Perhaps the strength of the Faith they saw in those that they persecuted on those fateful days pierced their hardened hearts.
The witness of martyrdom and persecution tends to have that effect on those who take it in. The Faith that it takes to accept what is happening with the knowledge that God is with them is a powerful thing.
It is this Faith that is also powerful for all who witness it. This Faith has the power to change minds and hearts. And it also gives us the power to forgive.
It is a remarkable thing that God can take something so terrible and turn it into something that can help others around the world strengthen, and even find, their Faith.
And it’s these acts of faith that those who reject God in the mainstream media do not want you to know about.
Here at Christian Life Daily, we’ve made it our mission to tell these stories that go sadly underreported in the media.
But we need your help. Please share our stores as far and wide as you can. Join our mission to spread the good works God is doing throughout the world.
And most importantly, PRAY for all of those who are persecuted throughout the world, and for a day when persecution is no longer something any of our brothers and sisters in Christ have to worry about ever again.