Jesus said, “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me”. (Matthew 18: 5)
After a sleepless night in our uncomfortable “square” jeep we were not just tired – we were completely exhausted. Finally we stopped in front of the rusted iron gates. After many hours of driving on broken Orissa roads our backs, hands and legs were paining everywhere. Behind the gates we could see the pastor’s center building – broken windows, black from fire, and looted. Nothing was left from its past beauty. Hindus around didn’t look friendly at all with an uncomfortable feeling of enmity and hostility coming from them. Under suspicious and hostile observation, we entered the center compound, surrounded by a high brick fence.
We looked around – burnt wreck of a jeep, broken glass, walls black from fire, and an empty looted building. Hindu fanatics did everything to make sure that never would a Christian dare to come back here. Then to our great surprise we heard voices coming from inside the building and a Catholic priest appeared to welcome us.
He was the first who decided to come back. His declaration was simple, “If we live with Christ, let’s follow Him to the end, even if it means death. This is my home, my land, my ministry – I must be here.” The first night he came back somebody called him and started threatening him, “Why did you come back? If you don’t leave right now, you are a dead man.” He replied “Come, I am waiting for you. How many are you there? One thousand, ten thousand, or one hundred thousand? I am not afraid of you. Come!”
Standing on the doorstep of his completely burnt room, the priest was telling us what they had gone through. He was telling how in the night, raged crowds flooded the building killing and sweeping off everything in their way. Hindus living nearby looted and took everything valuable they could find from the center. Fanatics sought out pastors and key leaders, according to the lists prepared beforehand. As soon as they found any – they killed them. Police looked on indifferently while the raged crowed raped women and girls. Words cannot describe how horrific the scene was.
Hindu fanatics were absolutely sure that after such a horror no Christian would dare to return. But they came back. Such faith and strength of spirit produced an amazing result – the fear of God fell upon Hindus. They started to fear those they persecuted. What Satan planned to use to kill and destroy, God turned into victory. Christians of different traditions and churches joined in one united whole. Fighting and competition was left in the past. Catholics, Baptists and Pentecostals began praying together.
During the whole trip we could see everywhere the same pictures of grief and destruction: Empty burnt ruins which used to be homes of believers; destroyed churches; refugee camps; people living in terrible unhygienic conditions. We stopped along the way, meeting with our brothers and sisters, talking and praying with them. Many of them, both men and women, cried while they shared their stories. All of them were similar: During the night raging crowds attacked their homes; Hindu neighbors looted their homes and burnt them; they had to run for their lives and hide in the jungles. Those who did not run away were killed and woman and girls were raped.
As this terrifying picture of sorrow and desperation sank in it became vividly clear what our orphanage children had been through. They didn’t just lose their parents; they saw how their parents were killed and their mothers and sisters raped. They had to run for their lives while their parents ran holding their hands with ruthless raging crowd chasing them. They had to hide in jungles, full of snakes, malarial mosquitoes and wild animals. During many days they didn’t eat properly or had nothing to eat at all.
I looked at our children. They were happy, joyful and dressed in new clothes. These are the children the Lord showed us in a dream a couple of months ago. This is a dream which came true. These are the children who have been given back their hopes, dreams and a future. I looked at them and wondered, “Why did some try to brutally kill them while others risked their lives to save them? Why for some these children mean nothing, but to others they are so precious that they are ready to do whatever they can to help them? What is the difference between living for oneself and living for God?” Jesus answered this question very simply, “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” (Matthew 18: 5)