No relative has come to visit “Kamala” as she lies in hospital in Batticaloa. She was injured in the suicide bombing at Zion Evangelical Church on Easter Sunday morning, along with at least 55 other worshippers. Twenty-eight were killed.
Kamala had gone secretly to the Easter service, dropping her baby off with members of her extended family before continuing to church. A convert from Hinduism, with all the family opposed to her Christian faith, Kamala had already suffered violence in the home because of her decision to follow Christ. She was forbidden by her husband from attending church. But on Easter morning, she could not resist it.
Her grievous wounds have not softened her husband’s heart. On the contrary, he has sent a message that, when she leaves hospital, she must not return home, and that she will never see her child again. He has also filed a complaint with the police.
Zion Church is active in sharing the Gospel and there are many converts among its members — believers like Kamala, isolated and rejected by their families and the Hindu community.
Sacrificial courage that saved many lives
The death toll at Zion Church would have been far higher but for the courage of Ramesh, a church member who gently persuaded the bomber to leave the crowded building. The explosion therefore occurred outside. Of course, Ramesh himself, escorting the suspicious stranger, was amongst those who died, as were many children, playing in the church grounds after their Sunday School class and before the main service began.
Ramesh leaves a wife and two young children. Like so many in this region of Sri Lanka, his wife had already experienced great violence and loss during the long-running civil war when her parents were brutally killed. She had also lost family members in the 2004 tsunami, which devastated the east coast of Sri Lanka. Barnabas Fund will be helping to support her and the children.
The total number killed in the explosions at churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Day is now put at 253. The vast majority of them are Sri Lankan Christians. Christians were indeed the intended target, according to the triumphant statement issued by the Islamic State militant group.
For a large number of the bereaved and injured, suffering is not new. Many endured great trauma during the civil war that ended ten years ago, and now have been bombed again. Those on the east coast experienced a terrible tsunami 14 years ago, which flattened buildings, destroyed livelihoods and killed many. And then there are persecuted converts, like Kamala, who suffered domestic violence from Hindu relatives and then terrorist violence from Islamist bombers. Like many other survivors of the Easter explosions, she has lost her family, but in a different way – although they are alive she will never see them again.
You can help them
Barnabas has sent funds for funeral costs at Zion Church. With your help we will also assist with medical costs, both now and in the future especially for those who have been permanently disabled. Needs range from hospital bedsheets (which patients must provide themselves) to prosthetics for those who lost hands or legs in the explosions. Families who lost their breadwinner will also need special support.
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