Article

ANTI CONVERSION BILL- A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE

Rev. Dr. M. Mani Chacko, General Secretary, Bible Society of India

India is a secular democracy where “…religious liberty of both the individuals and associations of individuals united by common beliefs, practices and discipline” is constitutionally guaranteed. The Indian constitution in Article 25 grants to the citizens of India of all religious persuasions freedom to profess, practice and propagate their faith in a way that does not disrupt public order and does not affect public health and morality adversely. Although the Article 25 of the Indian Constitution ensures a fundamental human right of the Indian citizens in no case to be subverted otherwise, several differing attitudes have emerged since its promulgation. Objection to conversion is one of them.

Hindu fundamentalists claim that Christian missionaries and workers forcefully convert Hindus to Christianity. Therefore, Hindu antagonism towards Christianity has accelerated the attitude of Christian persecution spreading across India. Mass re-conversion ceremonies, destruction of churches, and brutal assaults on Christians and pastors have been increasingly evident in the recent months. 

Therefore in spite of the constitutional guarantee as a fundamental human right of every Indian citizen to practice and propagate her/his religion, today there is a strong opposition and challenge to it from Hindu fundamentalists in different forms in various parts of India. Anti-Conversion Bills have been passed in almost 10 states in India. Hence, the Christian believers are falsely alleged against, threatened, and forcibly curbed against practicing and propagating their faith. Those who have not encountered the explained conditions however live in fear of imminent persecution of whatever form. This situation requires us to see the issues involved in a little deeper level.  

Today all the Christians need to have a clear understanding about their purpose of their mission in the contemporary society. All the Christians need to know the struggles of people and response to the need of the people around them. There are various ways in which the Christians can do mission in the midst of the present day challenges.

1. Commitment to the Humanistic Nationalism and Nation

The Christian should strengthen the humanistic nationalism. They must show concern for the weak and marginalized, which is the characteristic of Christian life. The Christian approach to nationalism should start with an active involvement in the struggle for democracy without partiality. Christians have to be convinced that participating in the civic and political life is an essential expression of Christian faith. All the Christians need to love the nation and need to do the best for the upliftment of the nation.

2. Establishing a Just Society

For the Christians, proclamation of the Gospel is the service in which the church can render to every individual  and to all humanity. Service is the basis of Christian mission and justice is its primary concern. God is just, so the mission of the church is not only to preach the Word of God, but to bring justice and peace.  The Christian’s mission is to fight against all kind of oppressive structures and establish righteousness.

3. Getting Into the Politics

Hindutva is a religious ideology, but it is used in India to achieve political ends. The church therefore, should co-operate with any group, both religious and secular, to raise social consciousness among the people. The church should not be churchy, dealing only with the pious activities within the church compound, but they must be conscious about the things going on around them. The Christians must cooperate with the politicians, government, etc…, to eradicate the evil of religious violence.

4. Answer to Violence

Hindutva is also the ideology of religious violence. As an ideology of violence, it needs a hate object to keep itself through aggression. So for them Christians and Muslims are hate objects. Thus, the church as a whole should not look into their threats, but should stand against it and continue the option for justice even in the midst of suffering.

5. Having an Inter Faith Dialogue

Dialogue with other Faiths is the characteristics mode of the church. It will help people from other Faiths to develop positive attitude in the society by giving importance to religious harmony and peace. By maintaining a proper dialogue there will be mutual understanding between different religions.

6. Using of Proper Terms like Conversion

The term conversion often leads to misunderstanding in the context of religious pluralism. Therefore, Christian conversion needs to be reconsidered and interpreted in the light of recent developments in pluralism. The reason behind Christian mission is to transform the lives of the people and not to convert them into new religion or doctrine. The Christians must not have an aggressive attitude towards people of other Faiths or convert the people by force. Rather the Christians need to think openly from the standpoint of religious faith and response positively to the claims of others in the pluralistic socio- religious context of multi- faiths.

7. Maintaining Indian Identity

The Christian identity should not be mixed with that of west. A Christian Indian identity needs to be developed in India. In fact, Christians do participate in the life of the nation along with the people of other Faiths. But it is important to assert their Indian identity. They must be acquainted with the culture. They must heal it and preserve it. 

Conclusion

Hindutva and its ideology reflect the threat to Indian society. The promoters of Hindutva have intensified their efforts to change the country into a monolithic Hindutva mould. Their efforts have resulted in innumerable atrocities being inflicted on religious minorities. Such acts of violence and the ideology that legitimizes them, threaten to destroy the very democratic, secular, and civilizational fabric of the Indian society. It erases the pluralism that underpins the unity of the nation. It undermines the principles of freedom, equality, and justice, as well as to the multi-religious and plural-cultural nature and heritage of Indian society. Therefore, we need to respond with utmost caution and alertness in the present day context.

Read more

“What Are You Doing Here”? – The Power of Discernment

The BSI offices reopened on 3rd January 2022, with Combined Prayer fellowship of all BSI Staff across India. Rev. Dr. M. Mani Chacko, the General Secretary of the Bible Society of India delivered a very profound and challenging message. The Scripture portion was taken from 1 Kings 19:8-5a and was read by Dn. Ranjit Paswan, Associate Auxiliary Secretary, BSI Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A solemn Order of Worship was led by Dr. Hrangthan Chhungi, Director, Church Relations and Resource Mobilisation. A meaningful time of intercessory prayers was led by Mr. Shantwan Raiborde, Auxiliary Secretary in-charge, BSI Bombay Auxiliary, Rev. Dr. B. J. Syemlieh, Associate Director, Translation Centre Shillong, Rev. Daniel Nath, Auxiliary Secretary, BSI Jabalpur Auxiliary and Rev. Gershombhai Khristi, Auxiliary Secretary, BSI Northwest India Auxiliary.

Overall, the entire New Year Service was solemn and set a right tone to face the uncertainties of the future. The New Year message from the General Secretary is found in its full length here below: 

“What Are You Doing Here”? – The Power of Discernment

Bible Text: 1 Kings 19:8-15a

Have you ever gotten somewhere and forgotten how or why you got there? We do it all the time with daily routines, going into auto-pilot mode for our most mundane tasks or daily excursions, so much so that sometimes we stop paying attention to what is happening until something out of the ordinary happens and gets our attention. Or, better yet – have you ever gotten somewhere and forgotten why you were there? Maybe it’s the grocery store or Target, or even your living room. You know you went in there for a reason, but for the life of you, you can’t remember what it was. Some say it’s a sign of aging, which is in part true, but it can also happen when we are stressed out or tired, and lack the capacity to retain information any longer.

This is where Elijah finds himself in our text. He is stressed out to the max, and on the run from Jezebel, longing for relief. He even asks the Lord to take his life; he is at his end. He finds himself revived in the wilderness, thanks to the attentiveness of angels sent from the Lord with bread and water. And while that sustains him physically, his spirit is still depleted. We hear earlier in the story of how Elijah is down and out, convinced that he is a failure as a prophet.

This experience of Elijah is blatantly honest about the humanity of God’s servants . . . He appears to be totally worn out, fatigued . . . He complains. . . He needs to be told to eat. His view of reality is distorted. He is quick to blame others for the situation in which he has found himself. He feels all alone. Given his attitude, one should expect a divine rebuke. There is not one, however. Instead, there is a series of epiphanies . . . God does not let him go simply because he is burned out and depressed.

God responds in the opposite way, providing him the very basic things he needs to survive: bread and water, and calls him instead on a journey through the wilderness. Now, this is not the first time God has called a prophet into the wilderness. The Israelites hearing this story would have immediately connected the journey to that of Moses in Exodus, spending 40 days and nights with God on Mount Sinai. Here, God leads Elijah to Mount Horeb, which is the name used for Sinai in Deuteronomy. Such leading reminds us that:

when forces in the world threaten us, when our bodies or spirits turn against us, there is One who seeks us, One who meets us, One who heals us, whose love washes over us and sets us free for joy. This One is the Lord.

God calls to Elijah with a question, “what are you doing here, Elijah?” (Verse 9). It is that moment of awakening, when you blink and come to your senses and try to orient yourself.?” It is as if God is displeased by Elijah’s flight, and wants Elijah to reset the course. We all need to hear this kind of call-out questions in life now and again. Sometimes we can offer them to ourselves; other times we need to hear them from others, and we hope they come from those who love us and have the best intentions in mind, rather than call-outs that are intended to shame us into correction.  When done well, they become our re-orientation points, invitations to gain perspective and re-evaluate our purpose so that we can pick back up the difficult everyday tasks of life and make it through. Sometimes our reflections on them are short-lived, but other times, as in the case of Elijah, they represent major turning points in our lives. Elijah is not only having a work crisis, but a spiritual one as well. In theological terms, we call this experience in the cave one of discernment – the process through which we seek to understand God’s will and then try to figure out how we can take a part in it.

But it is not just limited to Elijah, or those on a hike in the wilderness. Such an experience is open to us, too. Our text this morning can be seen as an invitation to experience God’s unexpected encouragement for perseverance in the daily mazes of our lives, whether we are facing abundance, adversity, or dulling routine.

When our souls are “disquieted within us” as the Psalmist says, we are invited to take refuge in God and hope in God, trusting that even in the midst of confusion about who we are, and who we are called to be, God is with us still.

In the Hebrew scriptures, the God of Israel often appeared in fantastic and dramatic ways. When we seek to encounter God with our questions, we yearn for those clear signs. Have you ever begged God for a burning bush or some other direct divine revelation about what you are to do? I have. In seminary I would somewhat jokingly say that God would have to send a great fish, as in the Jonah story, to get me to figure things out. And yet, none of those tremendous things has happened to me, not yet anyway.

Sometimes, it seems, God works in more subtle ways. This is what Elijah finds in 1 Kings. Did you catch the phrase that repeats after the wind, the earthquake, and the fire? “but God was not in” that tremendous sound. That is not to say that God never does those things. Indeed, we know God has from other Biblical narratives. But rather here, God acts in a new and perhaps more challenging way. God is heard in “the sound of sheer silence.”

The words translated “a sound of sheer silence” (qoldemamahdaqqah) can have more than one meaning . . . Qol can mean either sound or voice, demamah can refer to a whisper, silence, or stillness (see Ps 107:29), and daqqah can mean thin, small, fine, or sheer… In contrast to the thundering presence of the storm god Baal, Israel’s God is now present in “a sound of silence,” as in the sound of calm after a storm.

It can be translated in many ways, including “the sound of fine silence,” or conveying the sense of a hushed whisper.  Such a sound allows for centering, a meaningful pause. In the literary world, it might be classified as a “pregnant pause,” one that has energy brewing behind it, just on the cusp of something to be revealed.

This morning, I want to invite you to place yourselves in this story with Elijah, to join him in sitting with this question “what are you doing here?” and reflect on your sense of God’s presence in your life and the direction in which the Spirit might be nudging you.  To help us truly engage in this moment, I will read part of our text again slowly. Our time will include some significant moments of silence, during which I ask that you remain in that stillness and silence as best as you are able, allowing God’s presence to wash over you. Let us prepare to hear God’s Word anew to us:

11. He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind, and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;

12.and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

13.When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

What was this like for you? Take a few moments to check in with yourself.

The silence in this story is striking, particularly because it comes from God. Sometimes, we don’t know what to do with such a pause or perceived silence from God.

No one is ever prepared to endure the long silence that follows intimacy . . . no one is prepared to face it when it follows a season of intimacy with God. It is the hardest thing to talk about, and it is the hardest thing in the spiritual journey to prepare for.

We don’t tend to like silence in our faith. It seemingly calls immediate attention to all the things we don’t know about God, or about ourselves – it highlights all the questions that we have about our faith and lives, and even in times of discernment, can bring about more questions than answers. And yet, embracing these moments is a crucial part of the faith journey, alongside a fervent trust that God is with us in these moments of silence, just as God was with Elijah.

Perhaps God is not silent but rather is waiting – waiting for human beings to gather their thoughts, compose themselves, regain their speech, and find their way back into the give-and-take of intimacy with God.

Maybe that’s truly what discernment is all about; not so much discovering a specific set of actions we are supposed to do, but discovering how to reconnect with God when we are jolted out of a faith lived in auto-pilot, and forced to renew our understanding of purpose.

In the Superman movie, Man of Steel, a young Clark Kent becomes overwhelmed by all of the chaos in a school classroom. To escape his sensory overload, he literally bolts from the room and is found hiding in the quiet comforts of the janitor closet. With teachers and students gathered outside, urging him to come out, his mother bursts into the hallway. Calmly, she kneels down by the door and softly speaks to her son. She asks if he hears her voice. He responds yes. She tells him to focus on that, just her voice, to make it his island and swim toward it. After some time and lots of determination, Clark emerges and is immediately embraced by the loving arms of his mother.

After the sound of silence, Elijah emerges from the cave, humble and ready to hear what God would reveal. Here he experiences a bit of surprise, with God asking again “What are you doing here?” and Elijah offering the same response. Such repetition reminds us that even in times of discernment, we can come out in a similar place. And yet, God doesn’t leave Elijah there. God provides direction, specific directions about whom to anoint as the next king, and to whom Elijah is to pass on his mantle of leadership.

In other words, God tells Elijah to go back to work. Elijah does not have to give up his frustration, but God will not let him give in to it.

The same is true for us today. In the midst of difficult decisions, and when confronted with challenging situations in our lives and our world, God does not just let us throw up our hands, declare it all doomed, and go hide in a cave. Instead, through the Holy Spirit, God nudges us into contemplation and reflection with the question “what are you doing here?” Such a question prompts us into an active response to the world and reminds us that we have been created for a purpose. There is work for us to do. Sometimes discovering what that involves pausing, and listening to that hushed whisper. Because in it we know that we are not alone. The God who is alongside us in our chaos, who accompanies us into the wilderness, and who sits with us in the cave, is also the God who leads us out and remains with us, in whirlwinds, in earthquakes, in fires, and yes, even in the sounds of sheer silence. May we find God, and ourselves, there. Amen.

Read more

Obituary: Rev. Dr. P.N.S. Chandra Bose

Dear Co-Workers in Christ!

With profound sorrow, we share the news of the demise of Rev. Dr. P.N.S. Chandra Bose on the morning of December 9, 2021 in a hospital at Hyderabad.

Rev. Dr. Chandra Bose was the President of the Bible Society of India between 2013 to 2019, Vice-President between 2007 to 2013 and he served as the Executive Committee member until the end.   He was 72 years old.  His funeral was held on the 10th December 2021 at Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.  Rev. Dr. Bose is survived by his dear wife, the Vice-President of the Bible Society of India, Dr. Mrs.  P. Leela Bose, a son and two daughters.

Rev. Dr. Chandra Bose was deeply involved in the work and ministry of the BSI both at Central Office and also at the Andhra Pradesh Auxiliary.   His love for God and God’s Word were truly commendable. The contributions he had made to the work and ministry of BSI is immeasurable.  He was a deeply committed and dedicated Christian leader.

We give thanks to God for the life and witness of Rev. Dr. Chandra Bose.  His demise has left a deep void in BSI which is difficult to fill. We will dearly miss him and would ever be grateful to Rev. Dr. Bose for the immense contributions he has made in fulfilling the Mission and Vision of BSI.

May the Lord comfort and strengthen Dr. Mrs. Leela Bose and the dear family members in this difficult time.

The thanksgiving service for the life and ministry of Rev. Dr. P.N.S. Chandra Bose was held at Jehovah Shalom Church in Guntur on 17th December, 2021. The services rendered to several areas of ministry by Rev. Dr. Bose were remembered and in particular, his services towards the Bible cause were venerated. The Rev. Dr. M. Mani Chacko, BSI General Secretary, highlighted the contributions of Rev. Dr. Bose to BSI and in particular to Andhra Pradesh (AP) Auxiliary. Rev. K. John Vikram, AP Auxiliary Secretary, read out the condolence messages of Dr. Michael Perreau, UBS Director General, and the Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh, Moderator, CNI and President BSI. Bro. Johnson, AP Auxiliary President and Rev. K. John Vikram have presented 20 Bibles to the family of Late Rev. Dr. Bose to distribute to the staff of the Hospital which was his last desire.

Read more

INTERRUPTION AT CHRISTMAS

MATHEW 1:18-25

Rev. Dr. M. Mani Chacko
General Secretary,
Bible Society of India   
  

We have tremendously high expectations of Christmas. We want everything to be perfect. We have pictures in our minds of children playing, church choirs singing, and people smiling and getting along. But often it is not that way. It is supposed to be, as the song says, “the most wonderful time of the year” and the “hap-happiest season of all.” But for many it will be a very difficult time because something has interrupted the joy. It may be COVID 19, sickness, or death, or divorce, or loneliness.

We look to the Christmas season to be a time of perfect peace, harmony, and joy. But the first Christmas was not that way. It was an interruption.

Interruptions can happen at any good time. Consider the timing of Joseph and Mary’s interruption. They were engaged to be married. Like Christmas, an engagement is supposed to be a wondrous time. But it was during this time that an angel appeared to Mary and told her that she would miraculously, as a virgin, conceive and give birth to the Son of God. What joyful news! Yet, what an interruption! How would she explain her pregnancy to Joseph? Would he believe her? Would he be willing to take on that responsibility? This was not in their plans. And yet, she accepted it.

We know how Joseph responded. He didn’t believe her. How could he? His plans for a happy home with the woman he loved were dashed before his eyes. His life, as well as hers, had been powerfully interrupted.

If we are not careful, our response to an interruption can send us down the wrong path. Joseph nearly went down the wrong path. When he discovered Mary’s pregnancy, he was devastated. He couldn’t buy her story about a virgin conception. As much as he loved her and wanted to be with her, there was nothing to do but divorce her.

A betrothal – an ancient engagement – was much more binding than today’s engagements. The only way out of one was divorce. In fact, Joseph had the right to have her stoned to death for infidelity. Yet because he was a good man, he did not want to harm her or even embarrass her. He would divorce her privately. This was Joseph’s human response to a powerful interruption. But what a mistake it would have been.

Often an interruption brings on a knee-jerk reaction. We make decisions that, if we were better informed, we would not make. We must be careful that when we face an interruption, we don’t just react according to our own fears and feelings.

The key to handling an interruption is to get God’s take on it. Thankfully, God rescued Joseph from his error. I can imagine Joseph, having learned of Mary’s situation, tossing and turning in bed, trying to decide what to do. Finally, he decides. He will divorce her privately. But while he is sleeping an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream and says,

“Joseph, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. What she says is true. The child in her womb is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. This is in fulfillment of what God said through Isaiah the prophet, ‘The virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son, and He shall be called Immanuel meaning ‘God with us.'”

Joseph awoke with a changed mind. He would not divorce Mary. He would take her as his wife and help raise this miraculous child. He had gotten God’s perspective of his interruption.

When you encounter an interruption, whatever it may be, don’t react according to your own feelings and thoughts. Seek God’s direction. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths” (HCSB).

Here are three words to remember when you encounter an interruption.

Prayer

The first thing to do when your life is interrupted is to stop and pray. Pray for guidance. Pray for courage. Pray for help.  When you look to God He will help you.

Perspective

Put the interruption in the proper perspective. How bad is it really? How long will it actually be important?

Providence

Keep in mind that God, in God’s providence, is still in control of your life. Nothing can happen to you without the leave and notice of your Father. He still has all of the hairs on your head numbered.

Interruptions can at times positively redirect our lives. This was true of Joseph and Mary. Their plans were interrupted, but oh what an interruption. Can you imagine a more wonderful privilege, or a more challenging responsibility, than to be the human parents of the Son of God? The direction their future took was not what they had planned, but it was so much better.

Have you ever considered that God could do that kind of thing in your life? Not that you would be made the parents of the Son of God, but that God would take what seems to be an interruption, an unforeseen problem, and use it to set your life on a new and better path.

Whatever interruption you may be enduring right now, why not look at it in a different light, and ask, “God, are you using this to do something great in my life?” Then begin to look for the marvelous things He will do.

Whatever interruption you may be experiencing this Christmas, there is one thing you can do: stop and give thanks to God for Jesus. And as you praise and thank God, even in the midst of difficult circumstances, something of the peace that Jesus came to bring will be yours.

Read more

DEDICATION OF THE WORKSPACE IN BSI CALCUTTA AUXILIARY

 

Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.- Psalm 127:1

For a while now the office of the Calcutta Auxiliary was spread over two locations on the 1st floor of the Auxiliary and there was a need to relocate the office to one wing allowing for better management and fluidity of work. It was also needed to optimize utilization of the facility. We are grateful to our General Secretary who initiated the change.

The Calcutta Auxiliary is grateful for a new office space for its staff and also a Conference Room to be used for meetings. Special thanks to our General Secretary Rev. Dr. Mani Chacko for his support and in making this possible. Grateful to the many in our central office for guiding us through the process especially Mr. John Steven

We express our gratitude to   Dr.Hrangthan Chhungi for organizing a wonderful inauguration program and rallying all of our auxiliaries to be part of the service virtually.

Appreciate the many who joined us at the Auxiliary to celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness. 

We thank God for His providence in the redesigning of the BSI Calcutta Auxiliary workspace. A dedication service was organized on August 30, 2021 both virtually and physically.  Rev. Anand Peacock, Circular Road Baptist Chapel, Kolkata offered the opening prayer. Rev. Philip Bari, Auxiliary Secretary, BSI Calcutta Auxiliary welcomed the august body.  To remember the faithfulness of God, we all sang the hymn, “Great is Thy faithfulness.”

Rev. Martin Pakhre led the responsive reading from Psalm 127 followed by the Scripture reading from 1 Kings 8:22-30 by Pastor. Nilav Kolay.

 

Rev. Dr. M. Mani Chacko, General Secretary, BSI  before his sermon congratulated Mr. B. John Stephen, Director, BSI Property Management for his expertise and hard work in the designing of the workspace. Dr. Chacko reinstated that the BSI Calcutta Auxiliary is the first Bible Society started in the entire country.  He also thanked the Auxiliary Committee Members, staff and the supporters of the Calcutta Auxiliary for their ardent support.  He focused his sermon on John 7:53-8:1-11. He brought out three points to make this story of the adulterous woman caught in adultery unique:

  1. Law is used here as a token of condemnation.
  2. Grace has been used as token of redemption.
  3. The Word or the Gospel should be used as a token to enhance the reign / Kingdom / Mission of God.

Rev. Abhir Adhikary, Vice President, BSI Calcutta Auxiliary and Rev. Patrick Joseph, Auxiliary Committee Member, BSI Calcutta Auxiliary cut the ribbon and dedicated the new workspace.

A very meaningful song confirming the presence of God in the newly dedicated workspace was sung and led by Dr. Hrangthan Chhungi and Mr. Caleb Martin Hilton, Associate Director, Media and Special Audience.  

All the staff across the nation had a virtual tour of the newly dedicated workspace.  Mr. B. John Stephen offered the intercessory prayer, followed by the closing prayer and benediction by Rev. Dr. M. Mani Chacko.

All glory to God!!!

Read more

BSI CULTURAL PROGRAMME

 

The Staff Welfare Association organized a Cultural programmed virtually to enable the BSI Staff to have a time of relaxation to the body and rejuvenation to the mind.  It was very innovatively done through virtual.  It was a time to experience God given talents to individuals as well as groups.  The staff presented a skit on the title “Lockdown Diaries” which spoke about the impact of lockdown on people from different walks of life .  The BSI team virtually presented a pre-recorded multi-lingual song beautifully.

Read more

OBSERVANCE OF KANDHAMAL DAY

 

The Bible Society of India observed the 13th Anniversary of Kandhamal Day as a day to commemorate the onslaught of Christians living in Kandhamal town at Phulbani District in Odisha in the year 2008, resulting in many horrifying deaths, and destructions of Church buildings, individual houses, shops and loss of huge properties. Thousands of them are left in deep pain, with immense traumatizing memories as innocent girls and women were gang-raped, many were arrested as culprits, some were convicted for life imprisonment. 

Mr. Anto Akkara, a renowned Journalist at the National and International level from Thrissur, Kerala was our Guest Speaker of the day. Mr. Anto Akkara, along with committed lawyers, is tirelessly pursuing justice for those victims of violence for the Christians in Kandhamal. With his rich experience in journalism and case studies, with the practical knowledge of the Indian Penal Code as a degree holder of the Bachelor of Legislative Law or Legum Baccalaureus (LLB), and as a Christian activist, Mr. Anto had shared his deep personal experience and the testimony of faith that he came across in the past 13 years. He concluded his sharing with a remark saying “Kandhamal experience is no more a painful tale to tell, but it is a story of Christian faith in Christ and a story of the people of God who are the peacemakers in the midst of struggles for Human Rights, Justice, and Dignity. It is a story of borderless love as neighbors living in Kandhamal town irrespective of their tribes, castes, and faith.” 

Mr. Anto, through his personal prayer unveils the long and winding roads he still needs to travel until all the victims of injustice are acquitted from Conviction of Life Imprisonment for a crime they had never committed by the High Court of Odisha. Let us earnestly join Mr. Anto as he prays:

“Oh, my Jesus, you crucified despite being innocent. Hundreds are undergoing captivity and imprisonment worldwide for no fault of their.  Your folks in Kandhamal jungles of Odisha gave heroic witness when they were asked under death threat to forsake their faith in you in 2008.  Dozens of them embraced martyrdom for their faith.  Thousands held on to their faith even after their Churches were destroyed, houses were plundered and they were banished from their villages.

As the violence subsided, seven innocent Christiana were branded as ‘murderers’, put behind bars and convicted to life imprisonment.  Eleven years later, all of them have been released on bail by the Supreme Court of India.  We thank you, Lord, for that relief to the innocent Christians.  However, appeal against their conviction of life imprisonment for a crime they never committed is still pending before the High Court of Odisha.

“Ask and you will be given,” Lord You taught us.  We humbly beseech You to ensure acquittal of these innocents at the earliest so that the conspiracy theory against Christians is disproved, paving way for truth and justice to prevail.

We entrust the struggling families of these seven to Your care and protection. Lord, bless the valiant Christians for their heroic witness in Kandhamal, soaked in the blood of martyrs.”  Amen.

Read more

75TH INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION

The 75th Independence Day of our Nation was celebrated in all our offices across the Nation and we are thankful to Colleagues for their cooperation.  At the central office it was held at the William Carey Centre, Bangalore on the 15th August 2021 at 07.30 AM.  There was an encouraging response to it from the Staff who travelled from near, far and wide.  Mr. Pradeep Kumar Suna, Assistant Director, Publishing and Marketing (Product & Logistics) anchored the programmed.  Mr. Cyril D’Souza, Assistant Director, Marketing & Publishing read the Scripture portion.  Rev. Dr. M. Mani Chacko, General Secretary, BSI hoisted the Indian National Flag. Rev. Dr. N. Subramani, Assistant Director, Translations shared the Word.  Rev. Shashikala Alva B S, Auxiliary Secretary, BSI Karnataka Auxiliary interceded for the nation.

Read more

OBSERVANCE OF INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY

The theme of International Youth Day 2021 is, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health,” with the aim of highlighting that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people.

International Youth Day was observed in all our offices by following the special Order of Service prepared by BSI Jabalpur Auxiliary.  Staff of respective Auxiliaries and the Central Office took active part in the Morning Prayer. 

Prayer of thanksgiving was offered for the love and care for each other.  A time to introspect was offered to confess our ignorance and be insensitive to the people around us. Scripture portion for reflection was chosen from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  Staff in each of the offices shared their views and reflections from the above-mentioned Bible portion.  

Intercessory Prayer was offered for the young people of our land and thanked God for the trees of the earth and all that they provide – wood for the houses we build, food that we eat, and air that we breathe. 

It was a meaningful and a blessed special day.

 

Read more

OBSERVANCE OF NATIONAL PROTEST DAY

We are aware that on the 10th of August every year, we remember our demand to include Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the Scheduled Caste list. This year, we have designated it as the National Protest Day to protest against this injustice meted out to a section of Indian citizens. You are also aware that in 2013, National Council of Churches in India has filed an impleading application in the Supreme Court of India in the Civil Writ petition (180/2004) which is pending before the Hon’ble Court. In January 2020, the Supreme Court of India agreed to examine the plea to make reservations “religion neutral” so that Dalit Christians and Muslims too can benefit. The plea is pending before the court.

On 10th of August we remember, the infamous Presidential (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950 which was signed 71 years ago by the then President of India, which says “No person who professes a religion other than Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the scheduled caste” which was later amended to include Sikhs (1956) and Buddhists (1990) in the Scheduled Caste net. On account of this, Christians and Muslims of Dalit origin continue to be kept out of the Scheduled Caste list thereby denying them privileges in education, getting scholarships, employment opportunities, right to contest in the reserved constituencies, availing legal remedy/protection under SC and ST (Prevention) of Atrocities Act 1989 as amended in 2018, and such other affirmative actions. This is clear discrimination against Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims based on religion, and a violation of the freedom of religion and belief which is guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

We realize that our 71 years of struggle for justice should be supported by all people who believe in equality and democracy. The Supreme Court has a monumental opportunity now to render justice to millions of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims who continue to suffer from social stigma and the horrors of un-touchability.

SPECIAL PRAYER

Dear Outcast Lord,

Open our eyes, that we who seek to follow You may recognize Your face in the faces of those who are been denied privileges in education, getting scholarships, employment opportunities, right to contest in the reserved constituencies, availing legal remedy / protection under SC and ST (Prevention) of Atrocities Act and such other affirmative actions.

Open our ears, that we who seek to hear Your Word, may recognize Your love in the stories which are often drowned out.

Open our hearts, that we who seek Your way of life may be bold in witnessing to Your longing for justice and Equality.

Lord, we often hear it said that ‘The Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims suffer from social stigma and the horrors of untouchability.’ ‘It’s what they’re used to… they’re not like us.’ ‘I don’t want to think about it – it makes me depressed.’ ‘It’s the world – you can’t change it.’

Response: Give us the courage then to say ‘Your Kingdom Come.’ Amen.

Read more