“A tense situation prevails in the area with the minority Christian community fearing further attacks led by persons who are clearly acting above the law.”
Vicious attacks targeting church leaders and the harassment of other Christian workers and church members are increasing the pressure on the vulnerable Christian community in Sri Lanka.
On 9 August, a senior pastor and his wife were set upon by a mob of around 40 men, accompanied by five Buddhist monks and the assistant secretary of the local government authority. The couple, from Deniyaya in Matara district, were returning from a visit to a church member and her daughter when their motorbike was cut up by a 4X4 vehicle, throwing the wife to the ground.
The assailants descended on them carrying rocks and shouting, “Attack them, kill them.” The pastor was dragged along the ground and beaten by the mob. They accused him of spreading Christianity and threatened to kill him if he did not stop.
The pastor suffered injuries to his legs and body. Both his and his wife’s ID cards, his mobile phone, Bible and other documents were taken. The following day, hoax calls were made to church members from a person pretending to be the pastor, asking them to meet him at various places.
Shortly after the assault on the couple, the same offenders threatened a female Christian worker at her home, also in Deniyaya, ordering her to leave within three days. Another church worker who arrived at the scene was also threatened and his ID card stolen.
The week before these incidents, on 1 August, the house of a pastor in Pokunawita, Horana Kaluthara district was attacked in the middle of the night while he, his wife and their four sons (aged 14, 10, 8 and 3 months) were asleep. The attackers smashed all the windows with clubs; broken glass fell onto the bed where the baby was sleeping, but he was not hurt.
The pastor called the police, but they did not come. He had previously been warned of a plot by a Buddhist monk and others to attack him when he visited church members in a nearby village.
The incident has left his three older children traumatised; they are now afraid to be in their home.
Barnabas supports Sri Lankan Church
As Christians in Sri Lanka come under mounting pressure, especially from Buddhist extremists, Barnabas Aid is helping to encourage and strengthen the Church through the provision of both practical and spiritual support.
We are rebuilding homes and churches that were destroyed during the civil war so that Christian communities can resume their lives and ministry after years of displacement. We are also helping war-affected Christian widows to become self-sufficient through various farming projects, as well as helping Christians affected by devastating floods. And we provide scholarships for students at theological college to equip Christian workers for their ministry in what is an increasingly challenging context.
The Church in Sri Lanka is growing; Christians comprise around eight per cent of the population, which is 70% Buddhist.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid, said:
The Sri Lankan Church really needs our support and encouragement as it seeks to stand firm in the face of hostility and attack. There is an extremist Buddhist element within the country that has no tolerance for Christianity, and church leaders are becomingly increasingly endangered.
If you would like to help a Christian child learn in a supportive Christian environment, please send your donation to the Sri Lanka General Fund project (85-760). Donate Online using our secure server.
If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. For a one-off donation please quote project reference Sri Lanka General Fund project (85-760).
For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) text Barnabas/790 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).
- Pray for the pastors and their families who were attacked, and the other Christian leaders and church members who were harassed. Pray that they will all know the Lord’s comfort, healing and peace, especially the children who have been left traumatised.
- Give thanks that the Church in Sri Lanka is growing. Pray that Christians will have the strength to stand to stand firm as they come up against mounting opposition and that the Lord will continue to bless the Church with both numerical and spiritual growth.
Source: Barnabas Aid