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India: Loving the Lepers

A murdered missionary's widow carries on her husband's work.
2000This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

The widow of an Australian missionary who was burned alive in India has pledged to remain in the country to continue her husband's work caring for lepers. Graham Stuart Staines and the couple's two sons—Philip, 10, and Timothy, 8—were burned to death one year ago this month as they slept in a Jeep (CT, March 1, 1999, p. 46).

The vehicle was reportedly parked outside a small make shift church in the Orissa state village of Manaharpur, about 620 miles southeast of New Delhi.

An official report rejects claims that Graham Staines and his sons were murdered by members of an extremist Hindu organization.

A suspect, Andha Naik, has since been arrested. But in light of continued violence by extremist Hindus, many still believe Graham Staines was targeted because he was a Christian. The 57-year-old Baptist missionary had worked among lepers in Baripada in Orissa since he first came to India in 1965.

Not Walking Away

Despite her husband's death, Gladys Staines has no intention of leaving. Staines, 48, is in stead working on plans to establish a 40-bed referral hospital for leprosy patients at Baripada as a memorial to her husband.

She says many people in Australia, including her relatives, urged her to return home with her 13-year-old daughter Esther, who is studying at a boarding school in southern India.

"But I told them, 'Why should I?'" Staines says. "Graham would not have wanted me to pack up and walk away from the leprosy home."

Staines says the 60 patients at the leprosy home formerly run by her husband, and now by her, include some who arrived even before her husband came to the center 34 years ago. Esta blished in 1897, the leprosy home in Baripada had been managed by the Evangelical Missionary Society, to which Graham ...

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