Odisha/Orissa, India

Written by | May, 2015
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From the Field May 5, ’15

January 22, 1999 – Graham Staines, an Australian missionary working with lepers in a remote district of Odisha, was burned alive with his two sons by Hindu radicals. Terrible persecution of Christians in Odisha State has taken place.

October 2000— We held a meeting with a contact in Orissa State, which seemed promising. Correspondence had been exchanged earlier. But nothing came of this. Then twelve years later…

Contact with Pastor Hans in Odisha State came through his inquiry about the CLC through Pastor Jim Albrecht. In November 2012 I began correspondence with this new contact. Since we had planned to have seminars in Odisha State in February of 2013 I looked upon this contact as from the Lord. Pastor Hans was brought up in the Jeypore Lutheran Church, but separated from them some time back due to false teaching and politics in the church. His father had been a bishop in that church. Pastor has four churches and several preaching stations. He briefly was affiliated with a small Lutheran group from the USA, but since is separate from them. Orissa changed its name to Odisha.

March 2013
Lutheran Pastor Hans Asha contacted the CLC and wrote to the CLC President Eichstadt:

Respected Pastor Mike,
Grace,mercy and peace to you from the Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST. On looking to the website, we are very much interested to join with your church as a mission partner. We are independent Lutheran church working in the remote part of Orissa (Odisha) state in India. Mostly we are involved in working among the illiterate tribal and harijans.. We cordially invite you or any of your representative to visit us at your convenient time.
Looking forward to hear from you. With kind regards and hearty greetings.
In Christ,
Pastor Hans U.Asha, President,LCI,

Odisha Work by June 2013 (Previously we held seminars in April 2012)

Pastor Deepak and I worked in the new area of Odisha State. What follows is from a report to the Board of Missions on our work there in February 2013

“Deepak arrived before my ten days and stayed after also to work there on contacts. We are not establishing any district up there, but only having the seminars to explore and see what might be done in the future.

I taught on: Jesus in the OT – Search the Scriptures (OT) for they testify of Him, Baptism – especially zeroing in above all on it being a means of grace with the power of God’s Word, that little children should be baptized and that the three forms of applying water are permissible, The Position of Women in the Church, Certain Principles of Bible Interpretation. Baptism and Women… papers where translated by Deepak, printed and handed out with extra copies also. We had no arguments on anything. There was a good reception of our Bible-based positions and that this they do not get where they are. Deepak heard these kinds of comments from the men. All the men who attended were pastors or preachers except ten young men in one place who want to go for theological study to be pastors. Oh, for the chance to swoop them up and begin it with them!

Our attendance this year at the seminars was down from last year (first number was last year followed by this year’s): Bubaneshwar 104 –51, Nuagaon 130 – 57, M. Rampur 111 – 65. One obvious possibility is that those who did not agree with us did not come. A factor for Bubaneshwar was that there was a two day state wide strike that may have prevented some men from coming a distance by public transport. Deepak said some men did not get notification as he had asked locals to get the word out. Several men did not come due to deaths in the congregations and a bus bringing some broke down. All told despite the devil’s attempt’s at stifling the Word it went forth. This year also the devil was inveigling some local officials to require bribes. It was not a problem at Bubaneshwar but was in the other two places. We were not violating the anti-conversion law that is in effect in Odisha state as we were not holding open air meetings, but meeting with pastors to teach them. Deepak and local pastors handled this situation. Greed is a mighty motive on the part of some local officials. In the next requisition there is the amount of $200 for bribes.”

It remains to be seen how the work in that Indian state will go. While it was an area of intense persecution some years back, but no longer. Now those who were forced to publicly convert to Hinduism are coming back. There is a lot to pray about, especially the inclusion of Pastor Hans and his people into the BELC.