// News and Events


Sign up to Open Doors Email

Receive the latest news, updates and prayer requests from the persecuted church direct to your inbox.

Sign up today

 

Sri Lanka update: Your prayers and support continue to help those affected

Please be aware that this article includes details that some readers may find distressing.

On 21 April 2019, as Christians around the world were celebrating the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday, coordinated attacks killed 253 people in Sri Lanka. What happened next?

Many of those killed had been worshipping, with bombs being detonated at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo and Zion Church in Batticaloa. Thank you so much for continuing to support your family there, as the wounded recover and the mourning rebuild their lives.

REMEMBERING THOSE WHO DIED

There were 136 children in Zion Church on Easter Sunday – 14 of them died. Six-year-old Peter, one of those who was killed, loved cricket. His cricket bat stands next to his portrait in the memorial his parents have set up in the corner of their sitting room. The framed photo leans on a wooden cross engraved with his name. It’s surrounded by toys – a teddy bear, a football, but also a cardboard hospital that Peter had cut and pasted together a few weeks before the bombing.

“I’m glad that he’s with Jesus but it’s painful he’s not with me,” said Peter’s mum. “Peter didn’t just die, he died as a martyr,” his aunt adds. “Even if you know that in your head, it’s hard to accept it in your heart.” 

Peter's belongings

£51 could enable local teams in Sri Lanka to provide rapid relief for believers who have been impacted by persecution.

Ten-year-old Nerukesh has shrapnel in his spine from the attack. He is still on strict bedrest at home. Sixteen-year-old Sujiv’s mother died in the church. He said, “She is with God now, and God is with us.”

Senior leaders of Zion Church, Ramesh and Sasi, spoke to the suicide bomber in the church foyer. They stopped him from getting to the main congregation. 

Chrishanthini, Ramesh’s wife, said: “We were about five minutes into the worship when we heard a loud bang, but I didn’t know what happened at that time. We thought it was the generator.”

Ramesh and Sasi died instantly. If the attacker had got into the main part of the building, 200 more congregants could have been killed. 

In the midst of her grief, Chrishanthini is holding on to her faith. “Nothing happens without God knowing. And what I know is that God is love.”

Twenty-year-old Hashi lost her aunt, cousin and one of her neighbours in the blast in St. Sebastian’s, Negombo. She ran straight in to look for her family. “A whole choir was sprawled on the floor,” she remembers. “Limbs were strewn everywhere. In the pews where people knelt, I saw a body without a head, still kneeling with palms together in prayer.”

She hasn’t been able to sleep since.

HOW YOUR SUPPORT IS HELPING YOUR FAMILY IN SRI LANKA

These are just some of the hundreds of stories we’re hearing from the church family in Sri Lanka. Thanks to God’s grace, they are showing remarkable faith and resilience in the face of trauma and continuing risk. And thanks to your support and prayers, Open Doors and its local church partners have been helping the affected families in Batticaloa since the Easter bombings. 

Thanks to your support, Open Doors is set to provide trauma care and counselling for traumatised Christians, as well as persecution preparedness training in the three towns where the bombings took place. 

Through livelihood and education support, Open Doors is helping families to get back on their feet. At the beginning of June, Open Doors workers went to Batticaloa to buy new motorbikes for six Christians who lost theirs in the explosion. Some are pictured below. Open Doors worker Liyoni* said: “Even the managers of the stores were very eager to help and at two stores they gave us very reasonable discounts on the bikes and the registration costs. The pastor and the believers send their thanks.” 

Zion's motorbikes

Local Open Doors partners continue to meet with pastors and Christians from Batticaloa to offer prayer and encouragement. Families like Peter’s will always mourn and miss the boy they lost, of course, but – as Kumaran, an associate pastor of Zion Church, says, “That’s good ministry. This is what the people need.”

Open Doors will continue to monitor the situation and talk to Zion Church about how we can best help the affected believers – as well as other Christians in the country. Our work with the persecuted church in Sri Lanka was in place long before these attacks happened, and sadly Christians in the country still face significant persecution. Sri Lanka is number 46 on the 2019 Open Doors World Watch List.

£51 could enable local teams in Sri Lanka to provide rapid relief for believers who have been impacted by persecution.

As Tala*, an Open Doors fieldworker who travelled to Sri Lanka shortly after the attacks, says, “Let us take heart. Jesus has overcome the world, and in Him, we are not helpless. We can call to our Abba Father to hold our family in Sri Lanka. We can be one with them. We can pray. We can weep with those who weep and journey with God’s precious remnant. We can choose to be a family to the suffering church at this critical time. It will be a long and difficult road ahead for our family in Sri Lanka, but God hears the cries of His people, and He answers our prayers in His beautiful time.”

PLEASE PRAY

  • For Peter’s family, and all grieving families, that they would receive God’s grace and healing
  • For St Anthony’s, St Sebastian’s and Zion Church, that they will continue to be Christ’s light in Sri Lanka
  • For courageous faith for our brothers and sisters across Sri Lanka, and protection from future attacks.

*Names changed for security reasons