Saturday, November 9, 2019

Heartache At Batticaloa

On Easter Sunday, April 17, 2019, Sri Lanka was rocked by terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in the capital city of Colombo and in the eastern coastal city of Batticaloa.  Sadly, 253 lives were lost and many hospitalized due to these attacks perpetrated by a faction of ISIS.

One of the churches that was bombed was Zion Church in Batticaloa.  With our local ministry partners, Pat and I had the privilege to see the church grounds, meet with the Pastor for over 2 hours and pray with him.  Following is an account of what happened that tragic day at Zion Church.

The terrorist had originally planned to attack St Mary's Catholic Church a few blocks away, but when he arrived mass was over, so he went down the street to Zion Church.  Twenty-nine people died, among them a married couple who were the church’s worship leaders, the assistant pastor, several Sunday school teachers and 17 children.

Packed into a large backpack, the blast from this powerful bomb was heard over 3.5 miles away!. It was made up of bottles packed with a corrosive chemical powder and filled with thousands of tiny ball bearings, capped with  C4 explosive. The bombing was tragic and devastating to the families of those killed or injured. Some families lost multiple loved ones. Several people have permanent injuries and are believing for the Lord to heal them. Some are still recovering from burns, others are awaiting plastic surgeries.

The enemy planned for more to die - but God!!!  These may sound like coincidences, but we believe they were divine intervention in an evil plot.

  • Although invited into the church by three different people, the bomber did not go into the sanctuary. He continually asked for the pastor who was in England at that time. The Assistant Pastor became suspicious and was escorting the bomber off the grounds when the terrorist set off the bomb. 
  • The Assistant Pastor usually parks his van off site, but that day he decided to park it on site at a location that shielded the staircase where the children were sitting eating their snacks.
  • The house church caught fire. Pastor had a large fish tank in the courtyard, which ruptured and soaked the ground preventing the fire from spreading further. 

Six months after this tragic blast, the church is being rebuilt by the government and people continue to cope with the results of this grim reminder that we “do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12).  The Pastor and congregation have chosen to forgive their attackers, and reject bitterness that could destroy hearts and lives as surely as the bomb did. They declare that they will continue to fulfill the call and the mission that God has given them to spread the message of Jesus’ love.

Please continue to pray for Zion Church and all those around the world who are suffering persecution because of their faith in Jesus.

Blessings, Gary

Entrance to the Church Courtyard

Shrapnel bit into concrete, iron and flesh

Rebuilding the church
- after clearing away the destruction.






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