Mawii and Ro Pudaite

Food stockpiles that almost 11,000 families will need for their survival in coming months is being decimated and contaminated by an invasion of rats, triggered by the cyclical blooming of a wild bamboo plant, according to officials with a Christian ministry to India.

Mawii Pudaite, who with her husband Rochunga founded Bibles for the World, told WND that a crisis is looming in the Manipur district in India.

“It [the bamboo] blooms every 50 years, and the rats love the taste of this blossom,” she said. “The other thing that happens is that when rats eat these blossoms, their reproductive power increases, and they multiply faster than at any other time.”

The result in the region with primarily a primitive agriculture economy – where slash and burn techniques still are used – is that food stores, needed by families to survive until the next rice crop is ready, are disappearing quickly.

“We began getting letters, e-mails, telephone calls, saying that they lost all their harvest in December and wouldn’t even be able to celebrate Christmas,” she said. “We cried out to God and shared the need with some of our close friends and were able to send truckloads and boatloads of rice to these severely affected areas.”

However, the rat attack is expected to last about 36 months, and more help is needed soon.

In an economy where a family is considered well-off if members raise enough rice to feed themselves for a year, she said the stricken areas still are trying to get rid of millions of rats that are invading villages and homes.

While officials in a few areas recognized the problem was coming and stored food, areas with a population estimated at about 54,000 now are facing the problem without any preparations, she said.

Rice, the food staple in India, costs about $45 for 100 pounds, which will feed a family of five for a month, she said.

BFTW said the blooming of the wild bamboo happens in a cycle of once each 50 years, and a frenzy of rats feeding on the blossoms follows. Reports indicate the rich protein content of the bamboo increases the rats’ reproductive power, so the rat population soon is growing exponentially.

Then when the flowers are gone, the vast numbers of ravenous rats descend on farms, homes and villages hunting for food, sometimes destroying a rice field near a village in just one night.

The bamboo last blossomed in 1959, when area leaders unsuccessfully sought help from the Indian leaders, which led to a bloody 16-year insurgency against India, the organization said.

It was during that famine that Ro and Mawii Pudaite started their sponsorship program that now cares for nearly 3,700 children.

“Our sponsorship program began when starving villagers began dropping their children off at our national workers’ homes, saying, ‘Please take care of them until the famine is over.'” the Pudaites’ organization said.

BFTW also noted that killing rats is psychologically difficult for many Hindus, since rats actually are deified. According to those beliefs, a god of prosperity is portrayed riding a giant rat, BFTW said.

“The Christians of Manipur (approximately 36 percent of the population) have no sentimental fondness for rats, and are doing everything possible to kill them. But unlike their neighbors in Mizoram, had been abandoned by their government,” the organization said.

A Ministry of Agriculture official who investigated told Pudaite, “The government is asking us to distribute just three rat traps and three cakes of rat poison per village. It’s a joke! Our only hope is you doing something for the people. I don’t want our people to revolt the way the people of Mizoram did the last time.”

India has been cited by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom as a country of “particular concern” for its persecution of Christians, and the International Christian Concern says tribal groups who come to Christianity routinely are attacked by Hindu groups.

Several states there have even enacted anti-conversion laws which prohibit people from converting to Christianity, and those who commit atrocities on Christians seldom are held accountable for their actions.

The Pudaites first started their work on a translation of the Bible for the Hmar tribe in northeast India in 1959, and since then have seen the establishment of village schools, churches, a hospital and seminary. Today 90 percent of the Hmar tribe can read and write.

In the 1970s they also started providing copies of the New Testament to families worldwide, and since then have sent more than 16 million to individual homes in 100 nations.

As WND has reported, Hindu attacks on Christians happen routinely in India.

Information for those who would like to participate is at the BFTW website, or by calling the organization’s Colorado Springs headquarters 888-382-4253.

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