Christians in Sri Lanka in crosshairs of civil war

By March 7, 2008

Sri Lanka (MNN) – Sri Lanka has
come under fire over its human rights "nightmare."  International
criticism has been scathing over the government's half-hearted efforts to investigate
a string of high-profile cases including the massacre of aid workers.

The government also broke a truce
with Tamil Tiger rebels in January and is in
an escalating battle with the rebels across the North.

Trouble doesn't stop there. Violence against Christians in Sri Lanka has also
spiked in recent weeks. The reports of
assaults and beatings are troubling for those supporting the indigenous church.

According to a report from the
National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka, in mid-February a mob
attacked members of The King's Revival Church who had just left a Sunday
worship service in Mathugama, Kaluthara. 

Four believers were assaulted,
including a child. The assailants also threatened the believers who belonged to
the Tamil ethnic community that they would be imprisoned if they returned to
the church. A week later, another crowd gathered on the road near the church
building. They threatened the believers with violence and prevented them from
attending the scheduled worship service.

On March 2, ten students were
beaten by a group of masked men on motorcycles while they were walking from the
Lunuwila Railway to their school, the Believers' Church Bible College in Putlam
District. That attack was followed by a kidnapping and beating of one of the
students. When one of the students ran
to the college for help, he was followed by a motorcyclist who attacked the
college security guard and fled.

Glenn Penner with Voice of the Martyrs Canada says of this unusual number of attacks: "I think it's partly
attributed to the increased civil war. One of the difficult things to realize
is that religion and ethnicity is very much tied together. Christians are the only group that bridge
both of the major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, which are presently in a rather
brutal civil war with each other."

Mobs frequently threaten more
violence unless all Christian work stops in their area. Penner says the attacks on
believers have interrupted some evangelistic work, particularly where security
issues are in question. "Let us pray
for peace in Sri Lanka. Certainly, the
civil war has hindered some evangelistic activities as Christians are concerned
about traveling from one place to the other. Let's pray also for those who have been assaulted, particularly for
children, that they would know the comfort and the healing that the Lord can
bring into their lives. Pray for church leaders."

Pray that persecutors throughout
Sri Lanka will be challenged by the consistent testimony of Christ's followers
and be drawn to Him. Pray, too, that the
Gospel message will continue to grow and that many will come to Christ, despite
the opposition.

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