On May 3, violence erupted in Manipur, India, during a solidarity march opposing a recent Manipur High Court ruling on the Meitei community’s request for tribal status. Since that violent outbreak, the spillage of tensions has sparked aggression for Indian Christians in Manipur.
This area, which holds a strong Wesleyan Church presence, has seen several Christian churches and houses burned down. At this point in time, thousands of people have been impacted, and according to the Churachandpur District Christians Goodwill Council, 121 churches have been burned (as of May 10).
The Wesleyan Methodist Church of East India is a vital and growing church and has been deeply impacted by this crisis. Dennis Jackson, Global Partners executive director, and Ben Ward, Asia Pacific area director, have been receiving periodic updates from Regional Superintendent Reverend Lalsandam.
Rev. Lalsandam informed Jackson and Ward that the Indian Army took control of and shut down the internet shortly after the violence began, and more than 20,000 tribal people are now in Army camps with insufficient food supplies. Food supplies all over the region are also in extremely short supply.
In response to the devastating unrest and increasing daily need in Manipur, General Superintendent Wayne Schmidt has activated the Wesleyan Emergency Relief Fund (WERF). This WERF activation for Manipur will assist in providing basic food essentials, medical supplies, water and hygiene items. A goal of $25,000 is being sought to meet immediate needs with additional funds required if the unrest continues.
The fighting taking place has primarily been between the Meiteis (who are predominantly Hindu and non-tribal) and the Hill people (who are tribal and predominantly Christian). There have been a number of converts to Christianity among the Meiteis. While this has been communicated as a political issue, the fact that so many Christian churches have been burned would indicate this is a strong statement against Christianity.
In Imphal, there is one Wesleyan Methodist Church and five new church starts. Wesleyan pastors in Imphal are reportedly okay, but several plan to travel to safer regions for the time being.
Please pray for our Christian sisters and brothers who are facing persecution. Pray for the new churches, as they strive to grow stronger in their faith in the midst of violence. Pray for safety and provision — especially for food supplies. Ask God to bring a quick end to the violence.
Would you also prayerfully consider donating to help bring relief to growing needs in Manipur?
Donations may be given online at WERF Manipur or by check (cheque).
For United States donations, please make checks payable to The Wesleyan Church with WERF Manipur written in the memo line. Gifts should be mailed to The Wesleyan Church Corporation, c/o General Treasurer’s Office, 13300 Olio Road, Suite 100, Fishers, Indiana 46037.
For Canadian donations, please make cheques payable to The Wesleyan Church of Canada with WERF Manipur written in the memo line. These gifts should be mailed to The Wesleyan Church of Canada, P.O. Box 4458, Sussex, NB, E4E 5L6.
Heather Auker is the communication supervisor for Global Partners.