On the morning of October 23rd, a police officer, along with the district's governmental leaders, arrived at the Hokma Bible Centre in Deniyaya to question the pastor about the legality of this place of worship. The authorities demanded that all worship activities cease until authorization is received from the Divisional Secretariat, and for the local police to be informed of any church functioning in the area. An hour later, the pastor received a phone call asking him to come to the police station and make a legal statement. The accused refused to comply without the consultation of his lawyer.
The Hokma Bible Centre has operated in this location since 2007. The pastor had previously received a letter of consent from the Divisional Secretariat in relation to an electricity bill that was issued in the name of the church. The recently imposed legal action against the church comes less than a week after a committee from a local Hindu temple submitted a petition to the authorities in opposition to the church. For additional reports on the hardships being encountered by Christians in Sri Lanka, see our country report.
Please remember this church leader and his congregation in your prayers, as they work with their legal advisors on how to wisely respond in this situation. Despite the newly imposed challenges, pray that God will give them opportunities to reach out to their neighbours with the message of the Gospel. May Sri Lanka's governmental authorities be mindful of their need to treat all religious groups fairly and seek the best interests of the country's citizens by encouraging unity and harmony.