A litte bit of background. As a church, we work closely with a number of christian denominations in Sri Lanka, representing approximately 115 individual churches. The pastors of these churches are my friends, and a number of them are very close brothers in the Lord.
Consider the following – since September last year, I personally know of two churches whose pastors and elders have been attacked by large mobs, all led by Buddhist monks. In the first instance, a church was attacked during the holding of its Sunday Worship gathering. In both the second and third attacks, buildings and other property were burnt – fortunately, no lives were harmed in these instances.
Now comes even more serious news that mobs have attacked other churches and defied the police that were there to protect the church. In the coastal town of Hikkaduwa, on the south-western tip of the island, near Galle an angry, well organised mob attacked an AOG church. So well organised that they videoed the proceedings!
What concerns me most is that most in the western world have an understanding that Buddhism is a religion that promotes peace. Unfortunately, it is actually a very intolerant religion – in Sri Lanka, it is not only Christians who are persecuted, but Tamils (Hindu) and Muslims are attacked. However, none attracts the wrath of the Buddhist monks more than those who believe in Jesus Christ. We have brothers and sisters being persecuted for their faith, sometimes being killed for their faith, whilst the majority of the western world, and certainly most within Australia, are oblivious to their plight.
As a church we need to pray for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka – for strength and courage in facing levels of persecution that most of us struggle to comprehend. It is comforting to know that our brothers know and have experienced that wonderful saving grace offered by Christ, and that they do not waver as they realise their fight is spiritual, not only temporal. But stand with them we must, and also use our voices to make others aware of the sufferings that they face.