The housewarming parties continue in Orissa, India, as Christians move into new homes constructed by Gospel for Asia to replace those burned down or otherwise destroyed during the horrific rampage targeting Christians in 2008. During the August, 2008, attacks, thousands of homes, churches and businesses owned by Christians were burned to the ground. Hundreds of people were attacked, beaten and even set on fire. Dozens were killed and hundreds still bear the scars on their bodies.
The new houses are a reminder to these first-generation Christians that Jesus cares for them. The new homes, mostly simple concrete block structures containing kitchens, small living areas and bedrooms, are a far cry from the government camps and tents the people have been forced to live in. The funds to build these new homes came from believers around the world who were moved by the plight of their brothers and sisters who endured the brutal attacks.
Building Hope and Security
Gospel for Asia-supported missionaries in Orissa developed a program called the Relief, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project to facilitate the rebuilding process. These missionaries work directly with individuals and families who lost their homes in the riots, providing the materials needed to rebuild their homes. The recipients then build their new house with the help of local volunteers.
To date, more than 1,000 new homes have been built for survivors who lost their homes during the rampage. The small, sturdy homes provide a sense of security for brutalized Christians. They are also a living testimony that God loves and provides for all their needs.
But those sentiments are best summed up by the new homeowners themselves. Here’s what some of them had to say on move-in day:
“I was staying in the Tikabali relief camp after my house was totally broken and burned in the riot. My family was outcast and starving. We were wondering, not knowing what to do. But Gospel for Asia came and wiped our tears and enabled us to rebuild our broken homes by providing all the required materials. They have not only built my house, but also provided food and other relief materials. So I thank Gospel for Asia for playing this role.” — B.J. Prasenit
“There was a fear in people to enter their villages in those days—even the government administrators were scared. But in this situation, the Gospel for Asia Relief, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project came in and united us by conducting village-level meetings. They also surveyed the damaged houses they chose to rebuild. They provided all the needed assistance and materials to build the houses and stood with us. Finally, we were able to build our houses again. Now we are in our village homes and feeling better and at peace. I want to extend my hearty gratitude to this project because it rebuilt my house and my family as well.” — Abu Khan
“All our houses were broken and burnt in the Kandhamal riots, and we had nothing to stand with. Our whole village stayed in a relief camp for many days. Our family’s need was for shelter to live in. The Gospel for Asia project extended a helping hand to start reconstruction work in our block. I got all the needed materials and completed my house. God has re-established peace and happiness in our village and especially in my family through this project.” — Patnayik Rumaya
“After the riots in Kandhamal, we were homeless; we stayed in the relief camp for one and a half years. So many times we visited the government administrators, and each time they told us the same thing: Go to the Gospel for Asia reconstruction project and seek help. GFA perceived our anguish and agreed to rebuild our houses by providing all the required goods within a short period of time. Now we live in our own new house, which is far better than the old one!” — Elish Devda
“I am so very happy to be able to construct my house again through the help of the Gospel for Asia Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project. All the doors of hope were closed for me. The amount I got from the government was not sufficient to meet the requirements, but GFA came and provided me with the financial assistance to complete my house. May the Lord bless them and give them longevity of mission.” — Ramesh Singh
“When I recall in my memory those days of disaster to my house and my family—even today I cannot stop tears from my eyes. There was a time we had nothing but the breath in our body. I had a house to live in, but within one night everything turned to ashes. But today I got everything back. Through the help of Gospel for Asia, I regained my house, the lost peace and the stability.” — Rajeev Lal
“I am so blessed to get a house once again. In that night when I saw my house burning, I lost my hope to build a house like this again because I come from a poor family. After seeing this beautiful house, I don’t remember much about the belongings I lost. I am overjoyed with the blessing. As a family, we will remain grateful for this reconstruction and rehabilitation project and for the Gospel for Asia ministry leaders in Orissa.” — Naseeradin Sripaul
“I am so delighted to say a few words about the reconstruction and rehabilitation project. Gospel for Asia is really committed to the service of people in our district. Because of the help and encouragement of Gospel for Asia, I was able to build a new home. The Relief, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project is so excellent. I want to extend my hearty thanks to the project for making a house for me within a few short days,” — Paradip Nayar
“I am so glad to get a new house! After the riot we were living like wildlife. Nobody was there to help us in the tent. Many times we had to face food problems, also. I want to thank the government official who told me about the Relief, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation project. We came to share all our problems with the project leaders, and they gave us food, other relief materials and even a new home within a few short days! I could see the grace and love of Christ through Gospel for Asia’s workers. I want to extend my hearty thanks to them for making this possible for me and my family. We are so happy to be in our new home!” — Barpoda Digal
“After the riot in Kandhamal we were staying in a relief camp. Gradually, we started to visit other villages to try and stay here, but that was totally not possible. The village people in our area restricted us from using wood from the forest, getting water and denied us the use of some roads, so we came back to the relief camp. Meanwhile, we heard about the Relief, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project, and they built houses for us. We are thankful to them for their commitment and great effort.” — Sakina Pariasamy
“I am so happy to say a few words about the Relief, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project. Really, they are so committed and have so much compassion for us. I never expected and hoped that I would get my house back. This was totally impossible for me and my family. But wonderfully, Gospel for Asia came and fulfilled my dream by building a house for me and many others. All of these things seem like a dream! Whenever I see my house, I remember the 3R project and glorify the living Lord for His wonderful blessing toward my family.” — Loti Alok
“After the riots everything looked like darkness. We couldn’t do anything for our livelihood and house re-construction. But in the meantime, Gospel for Asia was a light that shined on us by providing houses and other relief materials. From that day onward, we are living peacefully, and I am thankful.” — Suneja Chamria
“I am so grateful to God for sending the 3R project to the Kandhamal district to rebuild houses. They made my house in a way that was not expected by me! For all these things, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the churches.” — Aruni Sigaru
“I am so glad to have assistance from Gospel for Asia to build houses. Really, this was great for me and my family. So I am thankful to God and to these churches.” — Charya Nagaswami