Sri Lanka wedding attack leaves pastor scarred

July 11, 2022 by Noah Cassetto in Asia

The night started out like any other wedding: laughter, songs, and celebration filled the air as Pastor Charles’* relatives were married. The bride and groom celebrated with family and friends and bright lights decorated the reception venue. It was a perfect, peaceful evening in Sri Lanka. It was a Christian wedding, and Christian songs were lifted up to Godthe couple was grateful to Him for their marriage.

As the celebrations continued, a stranger entered the reception looking displeased. Looking right at Pastor Charles, the man yelled: “Stop playing these hymns! I want you to play secular Tamil songs instead of these Christian hymns.” 

Here in Sri Lanka, Christians sometimes face persecution because they follow Jesus. A horrific attack on Easter 2019 killed over 253 Christians, and some non-Christians are hostile to the Christians in their communities. Violence against Christians, however, is generally rare.  

After Pastor Charles explained that they would not be changing the music, the man pulled down the lights around the room and damaged Pastor Charles’ furniture. When Pastor Charles’ brother intervened, the man attacked him before fleeing the scene. 

The police were not much help. “It’s almost as if the police are in total support of the group involved in this attack,” said Pastor Charles, with a weary smile. 

Just when he thought the ordeal was over, Pastor Charles and his brother were attacked as they were returning from the police station. A group of 15 people ambushed them, assaulting them with metal and wooden poles in the dead of night. When the group finally left them, Pastor Charles had bruises all over his body, several fractures and a head wound that would require 13 stitches. His brother suffered similar injuries. 

Today, as he recovers from his injuries, Pastor Charles is left shaken from the attack. He is afraid of darkness, unable to leave the house when the sun sets. Even during the day, setting foot outside his house brings back the traumatic memories of the attack. 

Most of us do not have to worry about being attacked for our faith wherever we go, especially at special occasions like weddings. But for many brothers and sisters like Pastor Charles, violent persecution is a reality they live through. Join us in standing with Pastor Charles and his family in prayer.

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Lord, we pray that you would protect Pastor Charles and his family from any further attacks. Let them know that they are not alone, that you go with them and that the global Church is behind them. Thank you that they can live to testify of your faithfulness. Soften their attackers’ hearts and write a story of reconciliation. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Open Doors partners were able to talk with Pastor Charles and his family, listening to their story and praying with them.