The church in Sri Lanka is facing mounting violence and discrimination – as extremism extends its influence.
Buddhist hardliners are not the only ones persecuting Christians now: Hindu extremists with links to India are gaining influence.
Please pray that our church family in Sri Lanka will stand firm and trust God.
Now large mobs, even entire communities, are being mobilised against the church. One example involves the Assemblies of God (AOG) church in Beliatta, southern Sri Lanka, say Release partners.
A mob of about 100 people from various villages attacked the church building, demanding an end to worship services and threatening to kill the pastor and his family.
Police had to call for back-up to be able to escort the pastor to the safety of the police station. Later that night, the pastor’s home was pelted with stones.
Three days later, about 500 people, including Buddhist monks, staged a protest against the church, demanding the pastor leave the village. The pastor and his family were put under police protection.
Release partners say that Hindu extremist groups that have taken root in India, including the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), are extending their reach into Sri Lanka, especially in eastern areas. They are reported to have been holding meetings with Hindu villagers to promote religious hatred towards Christians and incite violence.
- Ask God to protect the AOG pastor and family, and reassure them of His faithfulness. Pray that God will strengthen His people and uphold them with His ‘righteous right hand’ (Isaiah 41:10).
- Pray that those who are spreading intolerance and extremism will be moved by the witness of Sri Lankan Christians and touched by God’s unconditional love. (See here for more about #Pray50)
- Thank God that our partners say the persecution is causing the church to grow and that many Christians facing persecution have ‘responded in forgiveness’. Ask God to strengthen those who feel discouraged, including some who have left Sri Lanka.
(Sources: Release partners, Morning Star News)
Praise God for the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson who has been allowed to return to the US. A court in Turkey convicted him of ‘aiding terrorist organisations’, but reduced his sentence to the time he had already served in custody, plus a final year suspended. Pray that churches in Turkey will continue to witness boldly, with love and grace. (Source: Middle East Concern)
Please continue to pray for Christian schoolgirl Leah Sharibu, whom Boko Haram extremists in Nigeria have pledged to make a ‘slave for life’, along with UNICEF worker Alice Ngaddah, another Christian. Leah was among more than 100 schoolgirls captured in Dapchi, Yobe state, in February: she was the only one not released after she refused to recant her faith. (Source: Morning Star News)