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“Thank you for coming” – 350+ relief packets delivered in Manipur State, India

Over the last month, we’ve been tracking the violence that has impacted the Christian community in Manipur State, India. The ethnoreligious conflict has largely been between the majority-Hindu Meitei ethnic group and the majority-Christian tribal communities, especially the Kuki people.

However, even among the Meitei, the Christians have been aggressively targeted, showing there is a religious dimension to the violence that hasn’t been acknowledged by many observers or media.

The damage is extensive – more than 350 churches have been destroyed, burned down and vandalised. Thousands of Christian homes and properties were set on fire and destroyed. More than 100 people have died in the violence, and more than 30 000 believers are displaced from their homes, forced to flee to neighbouring states or into makeshift shelters.

Even as the world’s eyes have turned away from the situation, the tensions have continued. A Christian woman was killed while praying in her church on 12 June 2023. The following day, on 13 June, 11 people were killed in bomb attacks. The situation continues to be dangerous for God’s people.

“Though the mass burning of Christian property and churches have lessened, there are spurts of violence every so often, and the armed conflict remains active,” says Open Doors local partner, Anjali Lhing*. Sister Anjali was recently able to meet with affected believers in Manipur State. “There are tribal villages that are still being attacked on a daily basis. People have been displaced and killed, and villages are still being turned to dust.

“Meitei Christians in the valley area are being forced to reconvert to Hinduism by the [Hindu extremist group] Arambai Tenggol; and if [they do not do] so, [the Christians can be] physically abused or killed. People who couldn’t afford to flee out of the state are [in] hiding. Pastors and leaders are still on the run due to threats of reconversion and for their general safety.”


Relief for devastated people

In the past month, Open Doors local partners have worked with believers in Manipur State and the Christians forced to flee to neighbouring states. Our partners visited believers displaced by the violence, giving them urgent aid and relief – as well as a simple presence to provide prayer and emotional support. Open Doors is committed to both immediate and long-term aid for Christians who suffer persecution, and the situation in Manipur State is no different.

Thanks to the gifts and prayers of Open Doors supporters, our partners were able to help immediately with the most urgent needs. “Grocery relief was what we provided first,” Sister Anjali says. “This included items like rice, dal, beans, potatoes, onions, cooking oil, toiletries, candles, buckets, and other necessities. This distribution was done among the internally displaced persons in schools, colleges and camps.” Because of your support, more than 350 relief packages have already been delivered, and hundreds more are in the process of being distributed across the various camps and areas impacted.

Open Doors partners found devastated people, reeling from the trauma they’d experienced. “We came across people who are filled with fear and trauma,” Sister Anjali says. “We met innocent children who do not have a clue about the violence; we met families who have lost their loved ones; we heard mothers crying for their sons and men trying to stay strong to protect their families.

“Trust has been lost among the people. It was hard for people to open up to us or even meet us. Some people came up inquiring about their loved ones and if we have come across any of them. Our hearts were overcome with emotion as we saw and listened to them. We, too, are in pain.”

One tribal believer described the situation to our partners. “It’s a miracle that we tribals are alive,” says Dani*. “When I remember the attack, I can’t believe that the people who attacked us had guns and [advanced] weapons – and yet we were still saved. It’s only God who can do this. We ran through the jungle, and it’s been a month now. Please pray for our families. It’s OK to lose our houses and things – but we want our families, children and women safe. There are terrible things happening. I want God to have mercy upon us.”

Seeing the trauma drove our partners to make sure they were able to provide prayer and encouragement.

“Many people do not realise that they have been victims of persecution – they believe they are fighting for [government/ethnic] status, but it truly is persecution because they have lost their freedom to worship, and their places of worship are being destroyed,” Sister Anjali explains.

“We prayed for them and assured them that the world of believers is praying for them, and we encouraged them from God’s Word. We stood with them in prayer and look forward to continue being there for them.”


Thank you for coming

And yet, hopelessness is not the only story. Even as the Christians from Manipur State expressed the pain of their situation, they also expressed thanksgiving – both to Open Doors supporters for the help and prayers, and to God, for protecting them. “We had to run with our children in the middle of the night to save our lives,” says one local believer. “We hid in the jungle for four days and didn’t have food. Many of us have been shifted from camp to camp.

“Thank you for your help with groceries – with this, we can at least feed our children proper food. It’s God who brings people like you, even in such fearful situations, just to help us. God bless you, people who have given this help. Please pray for us; we want the violence to end. We want peace and a normal life. We want our family back. Your support really means a lot to us.”

Your support of Open Doors also allows our partners to spend time in prayer with Christians in Manipur State. This kind of presence ministry is often more powerful than filling immediate needs, as vital as basic necessities are. It reminds Christians they aren’t alone!

“Thank you for coming to our [region], when we see that people are only trying to escape from this land,” Kiminlong* told our local partners. “You took this risk just to come to help us, pray for us and understand our situation. I can’t find greater love and brotherhood like this. We don’t have anything. But at least we’re alive, and that is because of God.

“We also would’ve been dead if God would have not saved us. But God has provided us with more. He has given us groceries, which is our need. It has given us hope. Something not just to fill our physical needs but a reason to believe in God and His people and His providence. Please pray for us. We need your help.”

Sister Anjali heard many of these stories and words first-hand. And she’s seen how God is working among His people, even during the most difficult days of their lives. “People are filled with rage, fear … some are feeling hopeless, and some are holding on to their faith,” she says. “People have expressed that life is much more important than material things, and they are grateful to God. They are praying for the restoration of hearts and for the end of this violence.

“We have heard the believers say ‘God has protected us. Life is much more important than material things.’ Or ‘we will not give up our faith, because it’s the only thing left with us … if it wasn’t for God, we would have been swept away.’ It’s unbelievable to see such faith still stand after everything they have been through.”

Sister Anjali also asks us to continue to pray for our brothers and sisters who are impacted by the violence and ongoing restrictions. The internet remains offline, and a curfew heavily restricts the ability of churches to come together – or for aid to be distributed to believers in desperate need.

“Please do pray for believers of Manipur,” she says. “Believers are affected by this attack regardless of whether they are tribal or Meitei. While the Kuki Christian majority is hugely affected, believers within the Meitei tribe have become doubly vulnerable because of the Hindu majority they belong to.

“It’s still very difficult for us to reach places in Manipur, but we believe when God opens doors for us to enter, no one will be able to shut [us out]. We want to work with faith. Pray for our team as we ourselves are filled with emotions and heavy hearts when we are visiting the [Christians on the] ground.”

Continue to pray for believers in Manipur, India. Click here to lend a hand of grace to meet the most pressing needs of our persecuted family.

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