Three years ago, Rebekah was severely burnt and she lost three of her close relatives when her church was one of multiple sites attacked by suicide bombers in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. But today she is celebrating after getting married! Her story is a powerful demonstration of the way God loves to bring hope from the ashes, but also a reminder of the dangers facing our persecuted family over Easter. Please pray for their protection this weekend.
Rebekah suffered third-degree burns when her church was one of multiple sites attacked in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday 2019
On Easter Sunday 2019 in Sri Lanka, a day of celebration turned to devastation, as three churches were among six places targeted by suicide bombers (the other three sites were hotels). More than 250 were killed in the coordinated attacks, and many more injured.
You might remember Rebekah, who was at Zion Church in Batticaloa when it was attacked. Her sister, brother-in-law and nephew were killed, and she suffered third-degree burns. It’s taken a serious toll on Rebekah, both mentally and physically. She spent several weeks in intensive care and has undergone multiple surgeries.
"When we face difficulties, we must stay strong and hold on to see what God will do in the end" Rebekah
After being released from hospital, Rebekah began helping take care of her orphaned niece and nephew, all while grieving the loss of her loved ones. Rebekah told Open Doors local partners that she struggled to celebrate occasions such as Christmas and birthdays because the pain was too overwhelming.
As local partners have stayed in touch with Rebekah and her family to offer support, they’ve noticed how God is not only bringing healing to Rebekah but helping her become a woman of tremendous strength and courage. It’s a testament to the way in which Rebekah has clung to Jesus throughout her suffering. “I have so much peace in my heart,” she shared in an interview two years ago. “I know God does everything for our good because I have experienced it in my life.”
“I want to testify about what happened to us and to testify of who Jesus is," continues Rebekah, who loves singing. In one song, she declares, "This is the grace of Calvary. It is seen through His wounds. Look, Lord Jesus bore these difficulties for you. Priceless blood is flowing continuously. He paid a costly price, to give you value. This is the grace of Calvary."
And now Rebekah is experiencing the joy and excitement of marriage! “I am doing superb!” she says. It’s a beautiful reminder of the way God can bring hope from the ashes – just as He did on that first Easter Sunday over 2,000 years ago.
Rebekah and her new husband
Rebekah met her new husband, Kaushik, on Facebook after he got in touch with her in response to a song she had published on the platform. “I don't normally accept friend requests from people I don't know, so I was very reluctant to accept it,” Rebekah shares. “But I ended up accepting it and we started talking.” Kaushik is the son of a pastor.
After praying about it, the couple’s respective families met each other. “One of my concerns was the cultural difference,” Rebecca continues. “Batticaloa and Jaffna [where Kaushik is from] are very different, and people from those two areas don’t always get along. But when we went to Jaffna to meet his family, it was an entirely different environment for all of us. They didn't treat us like strangers. They welcomed us so warmly like we were family.”
The two families later approved of the marriage and a few months later Rebekah and Kaushik were married. “My husband is very supportive emotionally as well. Even with all the pain we've been through, he and his family have accepted us with all of that. He is very kind to Debbie and Rufus as well [her niece and nephew], and they love him too.”
“If the Easter bomb blast had never happened,” Rebecca continues, “I don't think I would've ever met a family like this. God has a plan and purpose in everything. If someone is running in a 100-metre race, they must run first to know whether they will win or lose in the end. When we face difficulties, we must stay strong and hold on to see what God will do in the end.”
The couple are beginning their married life in Jaffna, which is on the northern tip of the country. The first few weeks have been difficult for Rebekah because it's hotter in Jaffna, and it's taken her a while to get accustomed to the new climate, but her new family are showering her with love and care. “Not only my husband, but his whole family loves me very much,” she adds. The couple are keen to start a Sunday School ministry in their local area.
Rebekah still needs to undergo further surgery, and her move to Jaffna has meant leaving behind family in Batticoloa (a geographical distance of over 200 miles) who will greatly miss her presence and support. Rebekah is especially concerned for Debbie, who is blind after the Easter Sunday attack. Blood clots have been discovered close to her brain which need operating on before surgery can be done on her eyes.
Please continue to pray for Rebekah, her husband and family, especially Debbie, during this time of transition and ongoing healing.
The awful suffering caused by the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka reflects the heightened risk facing millions of Christians across the world during Holy Week. Last year, suicide bombers attacked worshippers on their way home from a Palm Sunday service in Indonesia. There have also been Easter attacks in Pakistan in 2016 and in Egypt on Palm Sunday in 2017.
This threat means that, in many places, believers attend services of remembrance and celebration over Easter accompanied by the fear of possible reprisal. And yet, our brothers and sisters still dare to meet, because they don’t want to miss the precious opportunity to gather with others to remember Jesus’s death and resurrection and what it means for them. Please keep our persecuted family in your prayers this week.
We pray for all those around the world who are celebrating Your resurrection today.
We pray for those who are still living in the shadow of death:
Those shattered by loss, and shaken by violence.
All who walk a road of fear and confusion today
May Your risen presence walk with them and comfort them, we pray, As you walked on the road with Your first followers.
We pray for all those who are anxious about meeting together,
Those who live in places where Your followers are hated and despised. May Your risen presence be with them today,
As you appeared in the rooms where Your disciples gathered.
Keep them safe, Lord, we pray.
And for all of us who celebrate Your resurrection today, Fill us with joy and hope,
May Your resurrection power fill Your church this Easter.
Because we know that no tomb could hold You, and that no stone is ever too heavy for Your power to roll away.
You can find more Easter prayer resources here.
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