Burnt Alive - The Staines and the God they loved

AMS Staff

On January 22, 1999, in a remote hill tribal village in the Indian state of Orissa, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons, Philip and Timothy, settled to sleep overnight in their station wagon.Soon after midnight, the Staines’ vehicle was set upon by an enraged mob. They beat and stabbed the father and his two little boys with tridents before lighting a fire beneath their vehicle, incinerating them.

It is significant that Indian and not Western Christians have written this book, though with five authors tackling different aspects of the story, the writing is uneven in quality and in some ways the book lacks unity. Its appearance is timely, however, as we are seeing a rising tide of persecution of Christians in many parts of the world - India, Indonesia, the Sudan, Nigeria, China.

One political editor, Abhay Mokashi, wrote:"I do not know if Graham Stuart Staines… was involved in religious conversions. One thing he definitely did - he converted leprosy patients into human beings, for the treatment meted out to them even by their near and dear ones was worse than that given to animals. The Hindu fundamentalists responsible for the killing of Staines and his two sons should know that the loss of these three lives is not to Christianity, but to humanity at large. The Hindu leprosy patients, to whom he devoted his life, have lost their saviour."

Burnt Alive also sets out the Gospel for which Graham and his sons gave their lives; it traces briefly the history of Christians persecution; and in a thoughtful section examines issues of freedom of conscience and the right to propagate one’s faith in India amid militant Hinduism. It also presents a selection of commentary on the crime from secular Indian publications, and sets out an appalling catalogue of over 80 crimes perpetrated against India's Christians since 1997.