Namrata Nayak (photo: Asia News)
Hindu extremists may have burned a 10-year-old Christian girl’s face, inflicted shrapnel wounds on 40 percent of her body and forced her family to hide in a forest and flee to a refugee camp in Orissa, India, but her plight hasn’t shaken her faith and thankfulness to God this season.
“Christmas is a time to thank the baby Jesus who saved me from the fire and saved my face which was disfigured and wounded,” Namrata Nayak told Asia News.
Nayak’s face was severely mutilated after Hindu extremists bombed the home where she was staying on Aug. 26. They broke into the house and burned it while Nayak and her siblings hid in a small bathroom. Before exiting the home, they left a bomb in a dresser, according to the report.
While the little girl surveyed the destruction, the bomb detonated and burned her face.
The explosion also lodged shrapnel into her face, hands and back.
Nayak’s mother, Sudhamani, came running out of the forest where she was hiding.
“We saw everything burned, and feared that everyone had died in the flames,” Sudhamani said. “Instead, thanks to God, everyone was safe. Only that my daughter had been wounded. But Jesus took care of her. We took her to the hospital in Berhampur, still unconscious and badly hurt.”
Nayak spent 45 days recovering in the hospital. Despite all her troubles, she is cheerful and giving thanks to God for healing her.
“There is so much pain and suffering, and I don’t know how long the special forces will protect us,” she told Asia News. “But Christmas is a time of gratitude. I am afraid that my people will still be attacked, but this is our life. If God has saved me, he can save other Christians too.”
The Hindu attackers have vowed to launch another widespread assault on Christians during Christmas. The violence began after Christians were blamed for the death of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on Aug. 24. They continue to be persecuted even though Maoists openly admitted to murdering Saraswati.
Hindus have offered money, food and alcohol to anyone who murders Christians and destroys their homes – especially pastors. Thousands of homes and churches have been destroyed, and Christians have been forced to flee the violence. Many have been doused with kerosene and torched after refusing to renounce their Christian faith.
Nonetheless, Nayak urges India’s Christians to forgive their Hindu attackers.
“[W]e forgive the Hindu radicals who attacked us, who burned our homes,” she told Asia News. “They were out of their minds, they do not know the love of Jesus. For this reason, I now want to study so that when I am older I can tell everyone how much Jesus loves us. This is my future.”
Nayak said her life plan is to share the message of God’s love.
“The world has seen my face destroyed by the fire, now it must come to know my smile full of love and peace,” she said. “I want to dedicate my life to spreading the Gospel.”