The small island nation of Sri Lanka was shaken on Easter Sunday 2019 when terrorist groups carried out suicide attacks against Christian churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. As reported by the Ministry of Health, the revised death toll stood at 253 persons. Many more still lie in hospitals, with scars and disabilities to live with throughout the rest of their lives. Hundreds still weep for the child, the mother and the father who will never come home. The entire nation lives in fear and the whole world weeps with Sri Lanka. Currently, the country lives in a situation of emergency and the threat to national security and human lives is still very real.
Among the churches affected by the explosions is the Zion Evangelical Church in Batticaloa. A total of 28 persons lost their lives to this act of extreme hatred; most of them children. It is Pastor Thirukkumaran’s belief that the children were spiritually prepared to meet their Saviour. Moments before the explosion took place, the Sunday school teacher had asked the class if they were prepared to die as martyrs, as part of the lesson for Easter Sunday. Surviving witnesses share how the children had raised their hands unhesitantly.
Pastor Thirukkumaran’s 12 year old son, Shalom Malkiah, was among those young lives that were snatched by the terrorist attack. That morning, the pastor had dropped off his two sons at Zion Church before leaving with his wife and daughter for a service at a branch church which he was to officiate. The two sons had been at Sunday school and just joined in the service when the explosion took place. While his older son had escaped the blast, Pastor Thirukkumaran and his family could only identify the body of Shalom by a piece of the shirt he was wearing that day.
Similar stories are shared by the loved ones of victims of the explosions which took place at the churches in Colombo and Negombo as well as the attacks on hotels in the Colombo area. Though 2 weeks have passed, the wounds are still raw and parents still miss their children and orphans still cry themselves to sleep. The gates of churches are locked and services are conducted in home cells. Weapons and explosives are found in places of worship, homes, business establishments, undeveloped property and even schools. Right now, the atmosphere in Sri Lanka is tense and there is suspicion in the eyes of her people.
Even in the face of hate, the Church in Sri Lanka has refused to respond except in love. In a message posted on social media by ‘The Life’ – a Sri Lankan Christian ministry – Pastor Roshan Maheshen of Zion Church expressed love and forgiveness for the extremist group that carried out the attack on Zion Church and in other areas of Sri Lanka. Displaying true Christ-like characteristics, the entire Christian community of Sri Lanka has refused to respond in violence to the attacks. The words of Christ “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24) rang true in the hearts of Christians as they posted messages on social media.
The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) joins the nation in mourning for the loss and pain our motherland has suffered. While denouncing the acts of hatred against Christians, the NCEASL calls for unity among the various nationalities so that we can heal as one nation and rise up from this bed of ashes. The NCEASL is currently providing financial support for families who lost their loved ones and for those who have sustained injuries in the attacks. It also provides psychosocial assistance for those who are recovering from the immense impact this situation has upon their lives.
PRAY FOR SRI LANKA
We solicit continuous prayers for unity and peace in Sri Lanka as well as prayers for those who have lost their family members and are still recovering from their injuries.