Remembering Easter Sunday church bombings from last year
Every Easter, Christians around the world face increased persecution. Last year a series of devastating suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka killed hundreds of believers and injured many more.
As Easter approaches this year, we remember our brothers and sister in Sri Lanka whose lives have been forever impacted by these bombings. Thanks to your amazing support, Open Doors local partners are continuing to stand with our brothers and sisters as they pick up the pieces.
We bring to you these testimonies of inspiration.
Fire all around
On 21 April 2019, three bombs exploded in three churches in three different parts of Sri Lanka, including in Zion Church in Batticaloa. Zion church is Rebekah and her sister Verlini’s church.
Verlini was killed as she led the children from Sunday school across the courtyard to the church. “I was in the bookshop,” Rebekah recalls, “and the suicide bomber stood right outside when he detonated the bomb in his backpack. All I remember is fire. Fire everywhere.”
Rebekah sustained third-degree burns down the left side of her body. Since that time, Open Doors' local partners have been able to strengthen and support her and her family – including Verlini’s daughter, six-year-old niece, Debbie who lost both her parents and her eyesight that day. Debbie spent over a month in intensive care, but she is now at home where she has not only relearned how to walk but is even dancing and singing.
The Sacrifice of Ramesh and Sasi
When Ramesh and Sasi were asked to welcome a visitor into Zion Church, they didn’t hesitate. As senior leaders of the church, they were happy to assist the pastor as he was needed elsewhere.
Minutes later the ‘visitor’ detonated his explosive as Ramesh and Sasi prevented him from entering the church sanctuary. Their sacrifice undoubtedly saved many lives.
Ramesh’s wife continues to hold onto her faith. “Nothing happens without God knowing. And what I know is that God is love.”
Every Sunday, Dukashini would go to the Zion Church in Sri Lanka with her mother, Girija, and her siblings. And every night Girija would read the Bible to them. Dukashini’s father, Prashanth, did not accompany them– as an illiterate day labourer, he was scared of losing work. “Come to church with us,” Girija would beg him, but he never did.
On Easter Day 2019, Dukashini was at church when a suicide bomber attacked. She found her mother, sprawled on the floor, her little brother standing nearby crying. “I thought she had fainted, so I sprinkled some water on her face,” Dukashini recalls. “But she didn’t wake up.” Girija never recovered consciousness and died eight days later.
‘Your rod and your staff, they comfort me’
Thanks to your support and prayers, an Open Doors team has been standing with Dukashini and her family – and with many others affected by the bombings in Sri Lanka. “We have seen the family of Christ unite together, to grieve, to comfort and to support,” said Open Doors partner Sunil* “No persecuted Christian should have to feel alone. We will continue to stand by them, for as long as it’s needed.”
Your support has enabled our team to help buy Prashanth buy a tuk-tuk, a small three-wheeled taxi, to support his family. Because he now works for himself, he can choose when he works. “My only aim now is to take care of my children,” he says. So, every Sunday, Prashanth takes his three children to church – just as his wife always wished. And every evening Dukashini reads the Bible to them all.
It feels a bit as though we are all walking through some dark valleys at the moment. Let us take heart from the courage of this 12-year-old girl and remind ourselves that God is our shepherd; He is with us, so there is no need to fear.
*Name changed for security reasons