The church in Sri Lanka has been facing increasing violence and discrimination in the past year. Contributing to the problem has been a recent rise in Hindu extremism taking root alongside the long-time Buddhist aggression.
From January through to September, the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) reported 67 incidents. In one example, a mob of about 100 people from surrounding villages attacked a church building in Beliatta, demanding an end to worship services and threatening the lives of the pastor and his family. Three days later, about 500 people gathered in protest, forcing the pastor and his family into police protection.
Hindu nationalist groups, such as the RSS, have also extended their reach from India into Sri Lanka. Meetings with Hindu villagers have promoted hatred and violence against Christians in their communities, particularly in areas of eastern Sri Lanka. VOMC's partner, NCEASL, has been able to assist victims of violence, including the help they require when filing charges against those responsible.
While Christians have often been able to respond with forgiveness and move on, the persecution can be discouraging as well. An attorney with the NCEASL reported: "It has been a sad situation. On one hand there has been growth in the church because of persecution, but there have also been instances where it has completely broken the church." For more accounts on the challenges facing the Sri Lankan church, go to the Sri Lanka Country Report.
May the peace, strength and encouragement of the Lord fill the hearts and minds of Christians throughout Sri Lanka. Pray for the NCEASL and other organizations that are helping them through these difficult times. Also intercede for their persecutors, that they will witness the love of Christ and reach out to Him in faith.