12/19/2008, 00.00
INDIA
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Widow of Orissa: Christmas, power of forgiveness for killers of my husband

by Nirmala Carvalho
Mrs. Kadamphul Nayak talks about the attack by Hindu fundamentalists, who killed her husband and mother-in-law. The body of the man, an itinerant pastor in the most remote areas of Orissa, was burned and scattered by the extremists after three days. He was killed because he refused to convert back to Hinduism.

Bangalore (AsiaNews) - "This Christmas, Samuel will celebrate with Jesus, whom he loved so much. This Christmas I only ask Jesus that my husband's ministry - to spread the Gospel - will continue, that people will learn the Good News of our Savior, that people will learn to forgive and believe in His Name." There is no hatred or desire for revenge in the words of Kadamphul Nayak, 47, whose husband was killed by Hindu fundamentalists in the early days of anti-Christian violence in Orissa. "For me, it was a privilege to be his wife," the woman says, "and although we no longer have a home, the presence of Jesus in our hearts is a reason for comfort for us."

Kadamphul Nayak (in the photo, with our correspondent) is one of the many widows who, out of the refugee camps of Orissa, have found hospitality in Bangalore thanks to the work of the Global Council of Indian Christians. Her husband, Samuel Nayak, 52, was a pastor and preached the word of God for more than 25 years in the most remote areas of Orissa. Originally from the village of Bakingia, in the district of Kandhamal, he was killed by Hindu fundamentalists last August 26, because he refused to renounce his faith in Christ and convert to Hinduism.

"Around 8:00 a.m.," the woman says, "an armed mob of 500 Hinduvta extremists came to Bakingia village: they stormed the church, desecrated the church, looted valuables and burned it down. I told my husband to flee into the forest, but he refused, as his aged mother Janamati Nayak (75 years) was staying with us.

"The extremists, who were also carrying inflammables like gasoline and kerosene, came to our house, shouting Hindu chants. They dragged my husband outside and thrashed him severely, some of the men placed a knife and this throat and demanded that Samuel renounce Christ, which he refused to do. This angered the extremists, who then poured kerosene on my mother in-law and set her aflame. As she was burning, they repeated their demand to renounce Christ. One of them had tied me up with a knife to my throat also, but Samuel refused to embrace Hinduism. The extremists began slashing him on his neck, back and heels, they also slashed me on my stomach reaching up to my back. For the third time, they asked him to denounce Jesus, and in spite of the heavy bleeding and being in great pain, in a gasping low tone he said: 'For 25 years, I have been in the Gospel ministry, I have walked all over Orissa telling people that Jesus loves and Jesus saves, I will never abandon my Jesus'. This angered the extremists, who then slashed his throat, and shouted, 'Now let us see how your Jesus will save you'."

After killing her husband, the fundamentalists covered Kadamphul's body with kerosene; almost miraculously, she was able to get away and hide in the forest before they set fire to her. "The next day, I crept into some bushes and saw my husband's burnt body, exactly where they had killed him, but I was too afraid to go to him. His dead body was lying there for three days in Bakingia. On August 28 some extremists came andy took away the dead body and threw it away. Still today, I don't know where is my husband's dead body."

Now Kadamphul Nayak has found refuge and welcome in Bangalore, but her thoughts go to her two children and her grandchildren in the refugee camps in Orissa. "Every year at Christmas, my husband used to dramatize the Christmas story through a live crib, with animals and shepherds and Mary and Joseph and the new baby. Though we have lost all worldly possessions, this new baby will be born to fill us with hope and a spirit of forgiveness. Here in this relief camp, we can understand the actual reality of the birth of Christ, in these tents, in the cold, in the precariousness."

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