The horrific events in Sri Lanka are a stark reminder of the realities of evil but may they be a time for our eyes to be opened to act in love.
As we have heard from our contacts on the ground just this morning, our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka are gripped with fear and there is great distress throughout the country. A state of emergency has been declared, shops and churches are closed, and a curfew has been set up to curb crowds and widespread looting.
The explosions – most of them suicide attacks – went off during Easter services at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church near Negombo, Zion Church in Batticaloa, and three tourist hotels in Colombo. Some of the blasts were more than 290km apart – but were almost simultaneous.
Three hundred and twenty people have been killed in the attacks with that number expected to rise, 500 are reported injured and 40 suspects have been arrested. Islamic State yesterday claimed responsibility for the attacks, while the Sri Lankan Government is blaming a local Islamist extremist group, the National Thowheed Jamaath.
As we have seen through our work previously, the persecution of Christians in Sri Lanka has largely been at the hands of hard-line Buddhists and mainly in rural areas. But this week, we have seen blatant persecution taken to new heights in this beautiful country.
Through these events and as we hear of great loss, may it be a reminder for us to not remain ignorant or silent.
Christian persecution is not a thing of the past. In fact, we are well aware that it’s increasing each year.
Just this morning we heard of two pastors in rural Vietnam who were struck down and robbed by police officers after they left a village church they were visiting – both were known by name to authorities because of their work.
Earlier this year, a female pastor was raped and killed in Indonesia after she had shared the Gospel.
Just a few weeks ago, we, here in the office, prayed for an imprisoned pastor in Vietnam who was refused care for a tumour he developed in prison.
On Sunday, many were killed for the faith they professed. On Sunday, Christians just like you and me were made martyrs. We can choose to only be horrified or we can choose to be ‘bound with them’ as we read in Hebrews 13:3. We can choose to remain silent or we can be their voice as members of the same body.
We can, as believers, continue to pray for them and their persecutors, speak out on their behalf and stand bold in our faith here, where our lives are not at risk for doing so.
Our hearts are hurting for our family in Sri Lanka. As we take this time to grieve with them, we ask that God would grant them the peace only He can give. We pray that those injured would recover in strength and we also pray for the emotional distress so many are experiencing right now.