Christians in Sri Lanka have been working to provide comfort, help and relief to victims of the Easter bombings. Despite fears of further attacks, Christians have been responding to the tragedy with an attitude of forgiveness. They say their aim is to break the cycle of violence and overcome hate.
Partners of UK-based Release International, which supports persecuted Christians around the world, are helping the victims and are calling for prayer.
Andrew Boyd has been finding out more from one, who for security reasons we cannot name…
Partner: There seems to be a lot of fear. There have been controlled explosions. People are so scared now, because they have found different explosives in different locations. So there’s a lot of fear and unrest within the community.
According to information there are even suicide bombers out there. And there is also news that there is going to be a second attack. So a lot of fear, a lot of fear.
It’s very sad, because in May it would have been 10 years since the end of the war. And for the past 10 years we have gone through religious issues and violations, but it was never this tense in security and the level of fear has not been this high. It almost feels like we are going back into the past now.
Andrew: How are the Christians responding to this?
Partner: The Christians are responding well, I must say. They are responding with an attitude of forgiveness and reconciliation and are trying to see how they can move past it. And also we are encouraging that. It calls for a message of forgiveness and love and peace and harmony right now.
That’s what we have experienced from Jesus, isn’t it? We experience grace and forgiveness and we continue to experience grace and forgiveness. That is the core of what we believe. It’s our faith. That is the reason the Christians are continuing to respond by faith and we will encourage them to continue to respond that way.
That is what we intend to do – to break the cycle of violence and to counter violence and to counter hate.
Andrew: I read today one reason why the hotels were targeted is because they were holding Christian services and Easter meals. Is that true, do you know ?
Partner: That’s what the media reports are saying, but I’m not sure that it is the sole reason. This hotels are also high tourist points.
We are responding to the emergency situation, looking at the immediate medical needs, looking at those who have been injured, seeing what can be done. We are looking at how these families can be supported, their livelihood needs, and also thinking about trauma counselling, psychosocial support, and to rebuild the communities, rebuild the families, rebuild the victims who have been attacked and restore. Those are all very difficult things to do, but that is our hope and what we are trying to do and how we are trying to move forward.
Andrew: How would you like us to pray for you and Sri Lanka?
Partner: You can continue to pray for the victims. There are some families where the parents have passed away and only the children are left. There are some where the whole family have deceased. Pray for comfort and strength.
And then we also need to pray for the leadership of our country, to take appropriate action and to respond well in the situation.
And then we also need to pray for the people involved in this work in the ministry, to make sure that God gives us strength and wisdom in this time to do what is necessary, to act responsibly and to be who He wants us to be in the community.
And last, but not least to pray for Sri Lanka as a country that we will be able to emerge out of this and only come out stronger.
I think in one sense, Sri Lanka is responding in a united manner in the majority of the situation, the response is as a united Sri Lanka. So that is good.