“If you don’t give us a solution, we will solve this problem our way,” the mob shouted, storming out of the police station. In a village in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, a small Christian community faces strong opposition from their neighbours, who are majority devout Hindus.
Repeated attempts were made to shut down the church, but to no avail, as the police refused to cooperate with the villagers. Enraged, the villagers decided to take the matter into their own hands.
Kumar* was on his way to church when two of his cousins began to attack him. Soon the rest of the villagers joined in. Kumar’s wife and three other women from the local church rushed to his aid, only to be beaten up and stoned themselves. One of them later explained to an Open Doors partner, “What hurt the most was that even though Jesus suffered so much for us, we can’t even serve Him freely.”
Seven months after this incident, Sri Lanka was put under an island-wide lockdown for over a month, and Pastor Shiyanth*, the leader of the local church, requested support to provide dry rations for the people in their village. Since most of the villagers are from low-income households, the lockdown due to covid-19 had drastic effects. They had no means of providing for their families as the curfew forced everyone indoors. Seeing this great need, the church stepped in to help.
With the assistance of Open Doors, the local church was able to provide dry rations for 100 families through the local government representative in the village. Even the people who had attacked believers from the church last September received packs of essential goods and were deeply moved by the gesture. They had later discussed among themselves, “The church could have just helped their own believers. They didn’t have to help us, but they did. Why did we do so much against them?” This act of love has opened new doors to reach out to that community.
Pastor Shiyanth shared, “Doing this gave us more opportunities to share the gospel and show the love of Christ to people. More people are eager to know the Lord. I see a great renewal within the church. Even the local government representative in the village has changed in his attitude towards the Christian community. We are building better relationships with the people now. Thank you so much for your partnership.”
- That these Christians can continue to share the love of Christ with the people in their village. Pray that more and more people will come to know the Lord through them.
- For the people who live on daily wages, who are unable to provide for their families during this covid-19 pandemic. Many Christian families in rural areas are unable to support themselves. Pastors in rural areas are also affected as the ban on gatherings has stopped all church services. Without the offerings of the believers, these pastors have no means of supporting themselves. Pray for God’s provision as they navigate through this difficult time.
- One of the women from this church who was attacked last September still needs medical attention as she suffered several blows to her spine. Pray that God would continue to heal her.
*Names changed for security reasons