On 21 April 2019, three bombs exploded in three churches in different parts of Sri Lanka. It was Easter Sunday. Hundreds of believers were killed and many more injured. You’ve come alongside affected believers in a variety of ways. From prayers to a tuk-tuk, here are stories of the difference you’ve made to families affected by the blast at Zion Church in Batticaloa…
Kalviya and Rathan with their mother; you've supported their bakery business following the death of their brother in one of the explosions
When Jasanthan, his wife and child were killed in the bombing, the grief was huge for the family. His mother still cries every day. Jasanthan also headed up the family’s bakery business, leaving huge shoes to fill. His brother, Rathan, assumed responsibilities – a task you’ve helped shoulder with the provision of trays and generator, enabling the business to not just survive but thrive.
"Through everything, we have seen that God is always with us" Rathan
“In this area, power cuts are very frequent,” Rathan explains. “At least three or four times a month, power cuts lasting up to a few hours happen without notice. If there is anything in the oven at the time, we have to discard it. We lose more than Rs. 20,000.00 (over £70) when that happens.” With a generator, they are able to continue baking even during power cuts. “Thank you for your support. It is a great blessing to our family and our business.”
Rathan and his sister, Kalviya, have been keeping themselves busy over the past two years working in the bakery and getting involved in various ministry activities. “Through everything, we have seen that God is always with us,” Rathan shares. “We know that we will see my brother and his family again someday. That is our hope.”
Gijra, a mother of four, regularly attended Zion Church with her daughter and youngest son. Tragically, she lost her life in the Easter Sunday bombing. Her husband, Prashanth, did not share her faith, but since her death he has become a Christian. His daughter reads from the Bible to him every evening. “We miss her,” Prashanth shares. “But we’re doing okay."
Prashanth and his son
“Even the day before she died, she begged me to go to church with her,” he says. “But I didn’t go. Now when I go to church, that last evening comes to mind.”
Gijra’s death meant Prashanth’s work as a daily wage brick layer, with long hours, was no longer suitable for his family. He needed to be around them more. It’s here you came to the family’s aid, buying a tuk-tuk (a three-wheeled taxi), enabling Prashanth to work flexibly around his family’s needs. “It is a great blessing to our family,” Prashanth continues. “What I earn is enough to meet the needs of our family.”
For the first six months after the bombing – which killed her eight-year-old son, Peter – Praba couldn’t pray, except to say ‘Jesus’. For two years, her family have been unable to pray together, let alone celebrate anything.
Your prayers have upheld Praba following the tragic death of her son, Peter
But during this time, a shift has taken place in Praba’s life. “It was only after Peter died that I fully committed my life to Jesus. I used to go to church only on Sundays and spent most of my time caring for my family."
“Now everything else comes second,” she continues. “I am putting God first now. That is what we are called to do. I have started my ministry again and am teaching Sunday school. My relationship with Jesus has grown deeper.”
Praba knows this wouldn’t have been possible were it not for your prayers. “People who had never even seen us were praying for us when we could not,” she says. “It is because of their prayers that we have been able to stay strong in our faith. Thank you for upholding our family in prayer during this time.”
You've enabled Kamanirajah's business to flourish following the bombings
Kanmanirajah and his family attend Zion Church. Thankfully, none of them were injured in the bombing, but Kanmanirajah’s business making and selling murukku, a popular deep-fried snack, did suffer. He relied heavily on trading with Muslim businesses, but these were boycotted in the wake of the bomb carried out by Islamic extremists, meaning they couldn’t buy from Kanmanirajah.
But you countered this loss with an injection of funds to restart and expand Kanmanirajah’s business. It is now thriving, even during lockdown, and it’s enabled him to pay off a loan he took out to first start the business. “It is all God’s grace,” he shares. “I have so much peace in my heart now. We are very grateful to you for your support. It was a great blessing to our family.”
And finally, you might remember Debbie and Rebekah. In the bombing on Easter Sunday, Debbie lost her parents as well as her eyesight. Her aunt, Rebekah, suffered severe burns that have required multiple surgeries. You’ve come alongside them with physical, spiritual and emotional support.
During a recent visit, Open Doors local partners noticed Debbie, now age eight, looking stronger physically and more confident engaging with visitors. She even managed to perform an action song! She is due to start school soon, which she is excited about, and the family have arranged for a teacher to come and teach her braille.
Meanwhile, although Rebekah is still waiting to undergo surgery on her foot and hand, she has been able to resume ministry activities. “By the grace of God, I have been able to start my ministry activities again,” she explains. “I am teaching Sunday school again and am also attending classes at Bible school.”
What if? is a six-part resource for small groups. You can work through it remotely online or together in person - and it’s completely free! It features videos, challenges, Bible studies and prayer pointers.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.