A Sri Lankan Christian sent me this letter today...
Church was different for us today. A week after the Easter bombings that devastated our nation, and ongoing threats of a second wave of attacks, the island is under high-security surveillance. A curfew has been imposed every night allowing the security forces to check every house. As they do so they continue to uncover more bombs and plans of the extremist terrorist group. We are still quite shaken by the drastic turn of events in our little nation. Just a week ago Sri Lanka was a peaceful tropical Island, dubbed the top tourist destination of 2019 (according to Lonely Planet).
Today, all Christian churches were advised against meeting in our usual places of worship. Our network of churches across the Island met in house churches instead. While we were deeply devastated and afraid over the past week, we have been rejuvenated through what God spoke to us this morning. All of our house churches collectively studied the passage of Acts 4:23-31. We want to share with you what God has spoken to us, hoping that it will encourage you to strengthen your faith.
The context to the passage is the story of the healing of the cripple and the antagonized high priest who instructed the apostles never to proclaim the name of Jesus. The apostles refused to do so, by saying ‘what we have heard and seen we must witness’. Amazed by their boldness, they were beaten but released.
We noted that:
- The Apostles did not pray for their circumstances to change, or for their enemies to be put out of office - rather they asked God to empower them to make the best use of their circumstances. They asked for divine enablement, not escape.
- They did not ask for protection, but they asked for boldness – their prayer was, “Lord look upon their threats and grant your servants to speak your word with all boldness. While you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your Holy servant, Jesus” (vs 29).
As we face this turbulent time in our nation, this is our prayer; that God would make us bold so we can be powerful Christian witnesses. Never in the history of Sri Lanka, has such a window of opportunity been open to the Christian church. While other people groups have engaged in hate crimes and racism, the Catholic and Protestant churches have chosen love and forgiveness. Non-believers across the nation are baffled by our refusal to repay violence with violence.
We stand with our brothers and sisters who are broken during this time. We grieve the loss of many tourists who trustingly entered our nation. We move with caution and mostly stay indoors in order to allow the armed forces to carry out their operations. But we pray with fervor. We represent Christ with much boldness. We are filled with hope like never before.
We are reminded that the New Testament Church was born out of times of persecution. We believe that revival is on its way, and it will sweep across Sri Lanka. We believe this with all our hearts! And we invite you to join us in prayer.
To the global Church:
"Thank you for standing with us in this time of trial."
A Sri Lankan Christian