VOM Canada recently received numerous incident reports from Sri Lanka outlining concerns involving two churches. On July 21st, Divisional Secretariat Officials went to investigate a church during the pastor's absence, taking pictures and refusing to answer the caretaker's questions regarding who they were and the purpose of their visit. The officials then threatened the church members, stating that the continuance of their religious worship would result in them being taken to local police. The following day, a couple of congregation members had inquired at the Divisional Secretariat's office about the incident, only to be threatened again if they did not comply with instruction.
A separate incident took place on July 4th, this time involving a church in Padukka of Colombo District. During the pastor's early-morning prayer time, an unwelcomed stranger entered his home. Using derogatory language, the intruder threatened him, demanding that he leave the village. The following day, the pastor witnessed a group of individuals armed with stones for the purpose of destroying the church. However, they quickly dispersed upon realizing that the pastor had observed them. Later that same morning, while the worship service was in progress, a mob consisting of about 50 villagers arrived on the scene, commanding the pastor to step outside. After shouting insults, threats, and demands to have the church halt all worship activities, the mob was confronted by police officers who attempted to diffuse the situation. After the incident, the pastor was advised to be present on July 6th at the police station.
Accompanied by his lawyer for the police meeting, the pastor discussed the situation with the officer-in-charge, who happened to be a Buddhist monk. After hearing a few villagers present false testimonies, the officer ordered the pastor to discontinue all worship services immediately. When the pastor referenced his fundamental rights under the Sri Lankan Constitution, the police filed an official complaint claiming the church as an unlawful place of worship within their Buddhist village. (Other reports and informative video clips can be viewed here.)
Let's unite our hearts in unceasing prayer for believers who are being persecuted for their faith, thanking God for what He is accomplishing in the lives of many in Sri Lanka and around the world, despite the threats of those in opposition. May His people be encouraged, strengthened and equipped by the promises in Scripture -- the Sword of the Spirit -- knowing that He is watching over His Word to perform it (Ephesians 6:17; Jeremiah 1:12). Pray that these Christians will have a greater awareness of the Lord's presence, protection and love; and that there be an increase and overflow of this authentic love demonstrated through their lives. May they not only overcome the strategies of the enemy, but also serve as effective witnesses to those in need of eternal salvation and deliverance from spiritual captivity.