Sri Lankan rebels ruin Independence celebrations

By February 5, 2008

Sri Lanka (MNN) — Sri Lanka's 60th Independence Anniversary
has been marked with carnage. Police
say at least 12 people were killed by a bombing on a crowded bus Monday after a weekend of bloodshed. Twenty-nine others
died in two separate blasts.

Ethnic tensions have continued, although no outright war has
been declared. The Tamil Tiger rebels
are thought to be behind the latest outburst of violence. 

Government authorities are calling the blasts the latest
effort in the rebel separatist campaign. 
However, a scrapped ceasefire with the Tamils last month was marked by a dramatic escalation by the Tigers.

Voice of the Martyrs' Todd Nettleton says while the
Constitution contains a statement guarding freedom of religion, many Christian
activities are seen to violate the special status awarded Buddhism.  

The faithfulness of believers in the face of opposition is
evident in that there has been a significant growth of evangelical Christianity
since 1980.

This has resulted in increased opposition from militant
Buddhists. But they are not alone in their
pursuit of believers. Many times, the
persecution has more to do with believers getting caught in the crossfire.  

However, "Christians are seen, in some ways, as
sort of a remnant to Colonial rule," explains Nettleton. "The
colonial rulers were the British, which was a Western nation. And so there's
some lingering animosity toward Western things, and Christianity is sort of
lumped in as one of those western things to be despised and opposed." 

There is a growing disillusionment with Buddhism that has
caused many to consider the claims of Christ. Nettleton says, "What our prayer needs to be is that this is a time of
Christian revival, that Christians even amidst the unrest can be a bold
witness for Christ, and, as Hindus and Buddhists are asking questions about
eternity, that Christians can provide the answers and be witnesses for
Christ."

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