Following a seminar in Truro about persecuted christians around the world, it was thought it would be good to share the information, and ask you to join us in praying for them.
A new country each month:
This month's focus is on the persecution of Christians in . . . .
Just south east of India, the Island of Sri Lanka, for all its beauty, has had a turbulent history. Successive invasions and colonial rule have fostered a growing nationalism, but sadly also a growth in ethnic and religious conflicts.
The population of 21 million is 68% Buddhist, mainly in the south, 14% Hindu/Tamil mainly in the north, and 9% each of Christian and Muslim spread around the country. This has increasingly caused tension between the various groups, with frequent outbreaks of violence and persecution. This culminated in the recent 30 year war between the majority Sinhalese who are mostly Buddhist, and the minority Tamil Tiger rebels who are mostly Hindu, which ended in 2009 with terrible bloodshed.
The victorious Buddhist majority then turned on the Christian minority, seeing them as a tool of Western Imperialism and a betrayal of Sri Lankan identity.
Things got worse, and at Easter 2019 Islamic State suicide bombers carried out co-ordinated attacks on three Churches, in line with the practices IS employed around the world, leaving over 200 dead and 500 injured.
Other persecutions taking place include disruption of services, often led by Buddhist monks with encouragement from local officials. False claims about not having the proper permissions to meet together. Disruptions to funerals, and even barring them from local cemeteries.
Successive presidential elections had hardened the Buddhist extremist policies, but a new president in 2022 has raised hopes for a better outlook and treatment for Christians and other minority groups. Radical Muslims are another problem with teams trying to get both Hindu and Christian believers to convert to Islam.
While many state schools do not teach Christianity, there are some strong churches which offer Bible and theological training as well as mission work and church planting in non Christian parts of the country.
Many of the Sri Lankan workers are poor, being day-labourers on the tea plantations, which means low wages and vulnerability to exploitation.
Things got very bad during the Corona-virus pandemic, but are slowly getting a bit better now, and they need to get a lot better fairly quickly.
• Thank God for the Sri Lankan Church and its growing numbers.
• Pray for a strengthening of faith in the face of persecution.
• Pray for protection and guidance for pastors and church workers, and for the local authorities to be better informed and supportive of Christians.
• Pray for an end of radical opposition to our Christian brothers and sisters by other religious groups leading to “fake news” and the danger of mob violence.
• Pray that freedom of worship will not be restricted, and that churches and church activities will be allowed to take place unhindered.
• Pray for a better attitude towards Christians by officials and government officers.
• Thank God that the Bible and other Christian literature is readily available and will remain so.
• Pray for more training for pastors and an increase of evangelism.
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