Under cover of Sri Lanka’s civil war, Christians feel heat of persecution

By October 7, 2008

Sri Lanka (MNN) — The shadow of
Sri Lanka's violence is growing. As the
civil unrest spreads, Todd Nettleton with Voice of the
Martyrs
says in the last two months, there's been a trend
signaling an escalation against believers, too. "There's a lot of pressure
against believers in Sri Lanka not to be bold in their witness, to stay out of
sight, and not challenge the authorities there.
Buddhist monks are involved in the attacks. They're leading the mob;
they feel like their power is waning."

While the Constitution guards
freedom of religion, many take Christian activity as a violation against Buddhism. Anti-conversion legislation and other amendments
may hinder religious freedoms, but they are on hold for now because of the larger
crisis involving the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Arson is often used to shut ministries down. The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of
Sri Lanka reported more than 60 people set fire to a church building used for
Sunday school in Puttlam District.  

Meanwhile, another church in
Puttlam District was completely destroyed in mid-August. A group of people who visited the pastor's
house earlier that evening and threatened him are suspected of having carried
out the arson attack.

A time is coming soon, Nettleton notes, where
"Christians have to decide, 'Am I going to follow the Scriptural mandate
to talk about my faith, to invite others to be in fellowship with Christ, or am
I going to be intimidated and be silent?'" 

VOM is helping the church
rebuild, especially in areas like Puttlam District that have been destroyed or
their members have dispersed to different areas by violent persecution. VOM also provides assistance to pastors who
have lost possessions during persecution.

But there's more needed. Nettleton urges, "We can pray for
stability in the country. We can pray that government authorities and police
will enforce the laws as they exist and will provide some protection for
churches and for Christians."

Ask God to protect and provide
for these churches and provide resources to rebuild. Pray that their testimonies will draw their persecutors into fellowship with Christ. Click here if you can help.

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