I could not believe my eyes as I just looked at the Fox news website after returning from our Resurrection Sunday services: bombs exploding in Sri Lanka; close to 300 people killed. Cell phone footage was later forwarded to me, footage taken directly after the bombings. Words cannot describe the horror. This particular footage was from the St. Anthony Catholic Church which was packed with people for the Easter Sunday Service. The explosion was violent enough to shatter the roof and parts of the walls. Dead bodies filled the aisles, bloody gore everywhere. This was only one of the churches. At least four or five others churches were targeted, as well as a couple of luxury hotels. The number of people injured in the attacks is over 500. So far, 87 demolition packs have been uncovered around the area of Colombo (the capital city) and other parts of Sri Lanka. So far, according to the government, 31 foreigners have been killed in the attack. Among the dead was the family of Ben Nicholson from Britain: his wife, Anita, 14 year old son, Alex and 11 year old daughter, Annabel, were instantly killed in the blast at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Danish billionaire, Anders Holch Povlsen, and his wife, Anne Storm Pederson, lost three of their four children in the bomb blasts as well. Only God knows what the families of these victims are going through in the aftermath of this tragedy, and whether we know these people or not, our hearts should be moved enough to pray for them.
According to the Sri Lankan government, the attacks were perpetrated by a radical Islamic terrorist group known as National Thowheeth Jamath. The investigation is ongoing so we will not comment at this time about it or the group responsible. If this is proven true, it will only be another incident in the history of blood with regards to Islamic Terrorism. Without the addition of Islam or the terrorism associated with it, Sri Lanka has a modern history filled with such attacks. Sri Lanka suffered for 26 years in a Civil War between the Sinhala and Tamil population on the island nation. Close to 100,000 people died. That war which began in 1983 ended just a mere 10 years ago in 2009. It is an understatement to say that Sri Lankans are apprehensive about another such conflict erupting in that island nation.
There is a sizable Christian population in this nation. Most of the victims of the attacks were attending Easter Sunday Services at two Catholic Churches and at one Pentecostal Church. The Assemblies of God movement in the country is a fairly large as well as the TPM/New Testament Church which actually began in Sri Lanka when it was British Ceylon. Christians were the predominant targets of this terrorism and we join our brothers and sisters around the world in condemning these attacks. We pray for healing and deliverance. I cannot say how much justice will be done by the Sri Lanka government or the by the World community. In recent times, leftists, academics, new personalities, and politicians have all been loudly proclaiming that there is no such thing as “Islamic Terrorism.” The nation of New Zealand made grand gestures toward the Muslim community after the Christchurch mosque attack last month (the Prime Minister and several lade parliamentarians donned the hijab-veils/shrouds to show their solidarity with the Muslim community), and the international media covered the attack nonstop for several days. This attack… well, one must wonder if the elites of the world, such as former President Obama, have a problem with the term “Christian” (on Twitter, he referred to the people at church as “Easter worshippers”). That said, Sri Lanka’s government is dysfunctional. According to recent reports, the government received intelligence warnings about the terrorist groups, but because of internal political fighting between the President and the Prime Minister, the people who were responsible for the security of the nation were not informed. If true, one can only wonder how that government will come together and respond in the aftermath of dangerous governmental negligence and incompetence. All of this said, the Christian community both in Sri Lanka and/or in the international community at large should not expect too much, whether that is for justice or solidarity.
Therefore, I call upon my Christian brothers and sisters to cry out to the Lord. Our justice, our deliverance, our healing, and our strength will not depend on human governments or government agencies and security services fraught with frailties, human weaknesses, indecision, not to mention with confused and distorted priorities.
We pray for the nation of Sri Lanka that God would keep that nation away from another period of violence like the civil war that tore it apart for 26 years.
We pray for the comfort of the families of the victims of this criminal act.
We pray that the Church will arise and that this will be a moment for people to hear the Gospel message and make a choice for Jesus Christ for the sake of their Eternal Destiny. More than any other moment, people should understand that we do not have all the time in the world, and that at any given moment, our lives can end. May God give an awareness about eternity into the hearts of millions so that they will long for Jesus Christ and his free gift of salvation.