'Keep praying for Sri Lanka'
The President of the Baptist Union in Sri Lanka has thanked British Baptists for their prayers - and urged them to continue as the country struggles to recover from the Easter Sunday attacks
The Revd Heshan de Silva was responding to a message from our General Secretary Lynn Green in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in his country. More than 250 people were killed and 500 injured when three churches and three hotels were targeted in a series of coordinated terrorist suicide bombings.
In an email to Heshan, Lynn wrote that every church she had visited since Easter has offered specific prayer and that we will continue to uphold them in our prayers.
In response Heshan, President of the Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya (Union) and the Chair of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka, wrote, 'Please thank every person and every congregation for their prayers.
‘Please continue to uphold my motherland - God's special intervention is needed at this moment at this moment to heal the wounds.’
This week the Sri Lanka Baptist Union circulated a renewed prayer request, updating Baptists worldwide of the 'very tense situation' in the country. The statement reported that Sinhalese 'mobs' have attacked Muslim houses and shops in different places in the country and there has been an island-wide curfew. Parents are not sending their children to school, rumours are spreading on social media and people are panicking.
'Situation in the country is very bad. Please pray for Sri Lanka. We need God's special intervention at this moment. We Christian leaders should need God's special guidance for us to know that how we should lead our people. Peace be with you.'
Although no Baptist churches were directly affected, as the leader of the National Christian Council, Heshan is very involved in helping shape the Christian response and helping shape Christian engagement with the government. In a statement in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks he called for unity.
'Today, the whole world is engaged in a war against terrorism where the true battle is in the mindset. It is a lesson that we need to come to terms with that this needs to be addressed in multiple fronts, where many including governments, religious and other organisations and individuals need to play different roles.
'It is sad to note that this happened on Easter Sunday where God provided hope and salvation.
'We appeal to all to be united for this cause so that those who died did not die in vain, and it is we who are living that have this responsibility. Let not this massive tragic incident be forgotten as a yet another incident of terror.'
Elsewhere, the Revd Edwin Lam, president of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, described the attacks as 'unimaginable, cowardly and senseless'.
He added, 'Our hearts grieved for and with Sri Lanka and also our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ and their families. We in the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation stand with our Baptist brothers and sisters as well as Christians in Sri Lanka in this time of great sadness and sorrow.
'We offer our sincere prayers, love and condolences to those who have lost loved ones in these terrible acts seeking to destroy the peace and progress of a nation which had already suffered much in the past.
'May the peace of God reign and rule in the hearts of the Christians as you pull yourselves together to overcome the shock and may He grant love and forgiveness towards the perpetuators of such heinous acts. We pray that God will grant wisdom to the government to protect the people and restore peace and order in the land.
'Even in times like these, God is in control and He knows what He is doing!'
Staff working for BMS World Mission's partner in Sri Lanka felt the effects of the Dehiwala bomb that targeted a guest house just one km away from their office. Thankfully all staff were kept safe during the blast.
In a Facebook post, BMS requested its supporter to join Sri Lankan Christians in praying for:
- The leaders of our nation: that God would give them wisdom to handle the current situation.
- God to console all those families affected by this ruthless outrage.
- People to remain calm, and for no further incidents or an escalation of the situation to take place.
- The Spirit of God and the message of the cross in Jesus' name to brood over this nation and usher in peace, despite all the evil that prevails.
BMS was able to pledge £10,000 through its disaster recovery ministries to support communities affected by the blasts. Working with local churches, our trusted partners on the ground are caring for children and families directly affected by the attacks. Teams of volunteers have been trained to help children in hospitals, through play and art therapy, to begin to cope with the awful things they’ve seen. They’ll be cared for when they return home too, by teams of people we call ‘Befrienders’. Befrienders are specially trained to work in schools and communities and provide psychological care and emotional support.
'By making these teams possible, you’ve helped vulnerable children feel safe again,' BMS said. 'Together, we’re bringing hope to survivors who felt they’d lost everything.'