After horrific Easter bombings killed hundreds of Christians in Sri Lanka, something amazing is happening and it’s turning heads.
And what’s happening is so miraculous that it is only possible through amazing grace of our loving God.
It started with the words of the pastor of one of the bombed churches and it’s proving that the more the enemy attacks, the more the Kingdom of God will overcome.
Pastor Roshan Mahesen of Zion Church in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka lost 28 members of his congregation when one of the attackers’ suicide vests detonated just outside the church.
Yet, displaying a miraculous grace, he had this to say to the attackers:
“We love you and we forgive you, no matter what you have done to us, we love you because we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“We are hurt. We are angry also, but still, as the senior pastor of Zion Church Batticaloa, the whole congregation and every family affected, we say to the suicide bomber, and also to the group that sent the suicide bomber, that we love you and we forgive you — no matter what you have done to us, we love you, because we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Jesus Christ on the Cross said, ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’ We also, who follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we say, for the Lord forgive these people.”
The pastor went on to say that it is in the power of the cross that he and his congregation can find the power to forgive those who harmed every family in his congregation.
Pastor Roshan called on his congregation and Christians around the world to offer that same forgiveness to those who persecute the church.
As has been done countless times in history when facing persecution, the Holy Spirit brings those who follow Jesus through the tragedy and makes them stronger as a result.
Pastor Roshan concluded by explaining he and the church will not be deterred from God’s mission by any amount of violence, “We will stand and continue what the Lord has purposed in our life and we are ready, and we will continue to fulfil the mission the Lord has given us.”
The president of the Evangelical Alliance who oversees Zion Church continued, “Jesus Christ calls us to love even those who persecute us, and what is more powerful than to choose to love in circumstances such as these. Let’s forgive, stand together and build the kingdom of God. Don’t give up.”
Now his shocking words of forgiveness are resonating not only throughout Sri Lanka, but throughout the world.
Such a powerful response to such enormous evil is turning heads, and doubtlessly will lead many more to the Lord as people ask what kind of God could possibly make such a response possible.
Time and again the church proves that persecution only makes it stronger.
The coordinated bombing attack occurred on Resurrection Sunday, April 21, 2019, as worshipers gathered to give praise to the Lord at churches across the island nation of Sri Lanka, which is in the Indian Ocean.
Little did they know that their world was about to change forever as six suicide bombers set off massive destruction to the six churches killing more than 250 people.
Yet, even in the destruction, God was clearly in control. The first large church that Mohammed Nasar Mohammed Azar planned to destroy had early services on Easter Sunday. Therefore, he had to change his plans as he headed to the smaller Zion Church.
As the bomber approached the church, Sunday School was just dismissing. Teachers, however, had already dismissed a few children to the outer courtyard.
Two alert adults stopped the suicide bomber who was wearing a jogging suit and carrying a backpack from entering the church. They had a heated conversation with the bomber who claimed he was there to photograph the morning worship. One of the men who became suspicious was the church’s sound technician who should have already been inside the church containing more than 500 people preparing for morning worship.
Despite the attention that he drew to himself, the suicide bomber was able to enter the outer courtyard where he detonated his bomb. Twenty-three people, mostly children, lost their lives including the two alert men who had tried to stop Azar from entering the church.
Many parents were left to wonder what had happened to their children while others arrived at the local hospital to find their child was dead.
In some families, more than one child went home to meet our maker that day. The alert men who stopped further devastation died. Yet, the pastor of Zion Church called for his congregation to do something amazing. He asked them to pray for the people who had sent the misguided suicide bomber who had done so much damaged to their congregation.
In all, over 253 people died at the six churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but others say they are not so sure, and the military has denied the claims of the Islamic State.
Over 176 people may have played a part in the attacks with many coming from wealthy families with important government ties, and the investigation is ongoing.
Despite attempts by the Sri Lanka military to close churches, many followers gathered behind barricades to give praise that God was alive and working in the lives of many in their country.
Those walking near the churches could hear songs of praise rising to heaven from the believers even though many had lost close family members.
Will you join me in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka who have been so devastated?
More importantly, will you take the time to search your own heart to make sure that you have forgiven all who have done you ill so that you can receive Christ’s forgiveness on judgment day?
It is the message of love that Christ delivered on the cross, and the Sri Lanka Christians are proving it is still alive today.