More than 250 people were killed and 500 injured when militants bombed churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka at Easter 2019. Survivors of the attacks are making steady progress, but still need our prayers, writes Release’s Linda.
Like us in the UK and Ireland, Sri Lanka has been in lockdown due to Covid-19.
Despite this, our partner is working hard for our family in Christ. Their aim is to equip the church, advocate for justice and peace, and build resilient Christian communities.
While in lockdown we missed being able to celebrate Easter in our churches. In Sri Lanka, however, Easter is also the time when many recall the devastating bomb attacks on three churches in 2019.
Thanks to your ongoing support, our partner is able to continue to help many Christians whose lives have been devastated by the bombings.
Medical care in Sri Lanka is very limited, so our partners have helped to pay for many urgent medical needs – including life-saving surgery.
Sara, for example, was teaching in the Sunday school at Zion Church, Batticaloa, when the explosion happened. She was hit in the head by several shards of metal, which narrowly missed her brain. She suffered damage to her skull, which required plastic surgery, and was paralysed on her right side.
While surgeons were able to remove six of these shards, a few pieces remain. With financial support from our partner, Sara has received continuing medical treatment, including physiotherapy to help restore some mobility. Though she cannot talk, Sara is able to recognise people. Her family continues to pray for further healing.
The bomb attack on Zion Church also devastated the family of Anika and her brother Rohan, both members of the Sunday school. The children lost both their mother and father – while Anika herself suffered severe injury to her leg, and was blinded in both eyes. However, doctors believe that one eye could be operated on in the future.
Today both children have been adopted by their aunt, who is very thankful for the practical and financial support given by our partner.
Your support has also helped Eshan, who suffered severe burns to his face and hands, as well as shrapnel wounds to his head and lungs. Our partner helped to pay for his medical expenses after the attack when he was in hospital for more than 30 days.
Today, on occasion, Eshan still experiences great pain from fragments which remain inside him. Thankfully though, recent surgery has removed some of the shrapnel, and surgeons managed to perform a skin graft on his face. He continues to visit a clinic in the capital Colombo once a month.
‘Our dear brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka rely heavily on the support and prayer that we give them’
Release’s partner has also been able to assist by buying medical items not provided by the state. I recall one struggling family I met on my last visit: the father had given up his work to care for his wife and 10-year-old son, both victims of the blasts, who were having to use colostomy bags.
However, without money to buy new ones, the family were washing the bags for re-use. Thankfully our partner was able to buy new supplies.
Your support has also helped some bomb victims to receive prosthetic limbs, which otherwise they could not afford.
Last year’s attacks also severely affected the income of many Christian families – especially if the main breadwinner was killed or injured.
Release provided funds to supply vulnerable families with dry rations, rice, spices and nutrition packs for children.
Livelihood grants have helped families to buy sewing machines, poultry and other items, enabling them to start small businesses and generate income.
Help with schooling
Your support has also enabled the children of persecuted Christians to go to school. Our partner provides scholarships for children from low- income families, and has helped parents overcome discrimination where schools have refused entry to Christian children. Grants have also been given to help children who suffered post-traumatic stress after the bomb attacks.
I know that our dear brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka rely heavily on our support and prayers. They respond with immense gratitude and thankfulness to God and in faith they endure their circumstances with grace and dignity. They pray for their persecutors, and demonstrate a spirit of love, peace and forgiveness.
Please continue to pray for these precious members of our global family.
Please pray for all the families who have suffered as a result of the Easter 2019 bomb attacks, including:
• Sara, who still receives treatment for her injuries
• Anika and Rohan, orphaned by the attack on Zion Church
• Eshan, as he recovers from severe burns and other injuries
Names have been changed for security reasons.
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