A week after the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, reports and updates have poured in as news outlets and our field on the ground have gathered news and information. Below, we compile some of the latest information, including a powerful testimony of faith from a member of Sri Lanka’s Parliament.
The official death toll has been reduced by about 100 people, to 253, according to the BBC. The reduction may be because the devastation of the explosions was so extensive that it is difficult to find out how many people were actually killed in a single blast. The UN confirmed on Tuesday that 45 of those who died were children.
More information has been slowly trickling out about the bombers themselves. The person who is thought to be the ringleader of the National Thowheeth Jama’ath group responsible for the bombings was a hardline Muslim radical who preached jihad so publicly that he’d been reported to the Sri Lankan authorities many times. The New York Times reports that the group likely has links to ISIS, a disturbing reminder of so many atrocities against Christians in Iraq and Syria.
The BBC reports that the Roman Catholic Church has canceled church services this weekend because of continued threats—the government suspects there may be more terrorists who have additional attacks planned.
Funerals have continued for Christians killed in the Easter Sunday bombings. Open Doors workers have attended some of the funerals, standing with our Sri Lankan brothers and sisters as they grieve their lost friends and family. Please continue to lift them up in prayer.
The government in Sri Lanka is facing many questions about how it dealt with reported threats and how it will address ongoing security issues. But one government official issued a powerful statement this week in Sri Lanka’s parliament. “I am a Christian and I share in the sorrow of the Christian church in Sri Lanka at this time,” said Honorable M. Abraham Sumanthiran, a member of parliament. “We believe in Jesus Christ, who came into this world, suffered as we do and took the worst of evil onto himself and was crucified unjustly. But he defeated all evil through self-sacrificial love, which is what we celebrate on Easter—Resurrection day. We are grieving—but yet we will not allow hate and revenge to overtake us. I can only quote Rev Fr Jude Fernando, who was celebrating the Easter Mass at Kochchikade St. Anthony’s Church when the explosion took place. I quote:
“’We love peace. We forgive. Our God is a God of peace, he is not a God of revenge. We love each other, we forgive.’”
Pray for Sri Lanka and for your brothers and sisters there. Pray they would be able to feel the hope and comfort of God. Pray they could practice the radical forgiveness of Jesus. And pray for justice to be done, that the perpetrators would be found and prevented from attacking any additional people.