Leader of bombed evangelical church in Sri Lanka offers forgiveness to attackers: WEA

(Source: Asia News)In 2013, a monk and four of his followers attacked a Pentecostal community in Sri Lanka and accused its pastor for forcing conversions and destroying the Buddhist culture. The incident was ignored by police despite complaints of Christians.

The World Evangelical Alliance says it would like to give greater exposure to the moving testimony of Pastor Roshan Mahesen one of the targets of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka and invite Christians to continue to pray for their brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka.

The U.S.-based WEA issued a carefully worded statement headlined: "Leader of bombed Evangelical Church in Sri Lanka offers forgiveness to attackers."

At the same time the Jim Winkler president and general secretary of the ecumenical U.S. National Council of Churches offer a commentary titled: "From Jim: The Myth of Redemptive Violence" showing that thinking Christians concur in their approach to the latest atrocity in the name of religion.


The Guardian reported April 26 that Sri Lanka's president has said investigations into civil war-era human rights abuses weakened the country's security apparatus and left it vulnerable to last Sunday's suicide bomb attacks, as members of the government continued to try to diffuse blame for the attacks.

Maithripala Sirisena told Sri Lankan media outlets on Friday morning that there were up to 140 supporters of Islamic State in the country and that about 70 had been arrested.

"I will stamp out ISISs from Sri Lanka," he said. "Our police and security forces are capable of achieving this."

Bishop Efraim Tendero, WEA Secretary General and CEO, expressed his solidarity with the Christians in Sri Lanka in a statement after the attacks.

He said, "We are deeply saddened and troubled by the news of the targeted attacks on worshippers and other innocent people on Easter Sunday.

"As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we now also mourn the loss of lives due to this heartless violence.

"We call on churches around the world to join us in prayer for those affected, and that God's strong and comforting presence may be with them in this tragedy," said Tendero.

"May God help them to hold onto the faith of the resurrection and experience the peace that transcends all understanding."


Then WEA released the Evangelical Alliance of the United Kingdom's (EAUK) press release in full:

"The leader of the evangelical church bombed in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday has spoken out, offering forgiveness to the attackers, and thanks to all who have offered prayer and support. Pastor Roshan Mahesen also spoke of his commitment to continue the church's mission.

"Speaking in London this week Pastor Roshan said: "We are hurt. We are angry also, but still, as the senior pastor of Zion Church Batticaloa, the whole congregation and every family affected, we say to the suicide bomber, and also to the group that sent the suicide bomber, that we love you and we forgive you, no matter what you have done to us, we love you, because we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Jesus Christ on the Cross, he said father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. We also, who follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we say, for the Lord forgive these people."

"In a video shared by Sri Lankan Christian ministry 'The Life', Pastor Roshan went on to say: 'I want to take this opportunity to thank every church around the world, every believer, every person known to me and unknown to me who has contacted me, calling me, sending messages of condolences, and then words of encouragement.

"'I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, every word you speak brings such comfort and strength. We will stand and continue what the lord has purposed in our life and we are ready, and we will continue to fulfil the mission the Lord has given us.'"

Pastor Chrishanthy Sathiyaraj, leader of a Sri Lankan church which brings together Tamil and Sinhalese Christians and founder of 'The Life' ministry, interviewed Pastor Roshan earlier this week while he was visiting the UK.

Pastor Chrishanthy is part of the Evangelical Alliance UK's council and commented: "These atrocious attacks have shocked the world, the violence has impacted my friends and family and many in the Sri Lankan community in the UK know people who have died.

"If only we can hear Pastor Roshan's words and respond with forgiveness instead of hate. Jesus Christ calls us to love even those who persecute us, and what is more powerful than to choose to love in circumstances such as these.

"Let's forgive, stand together and build the kingdom of God. Don't give up."

Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance UK, joined a prayer gathering earlier this week following the attacks as Sri Lankan leaders prayed together.

Responding to the video Steve Clifford said: "I am mourning with my Sri Lankan brothers and sisters in Christ as they bury loved ones, as church communities are shaken by the violence inflicted on them and as others live in fear that the same might strike them.

"Pastor Roshan offers love and forgiveness that can only come from knowing that we are forgiven by Jesus. I will continue to pray for him and all the believers in Sri Lanka, that they will know hope in Jesus that overcomes all fear."


In his commentary the NCC's Winkler wrote, "It now appears that the slaughter in Sri Lanka of Christians worshiping on Easter Sunday was carried out in retaliation for an earlier slaughter in New Zealand of Muslims who were themselves in the midst of worship.

"Extremists carried out both of these massacres, but we should not view these as isolated incidents. Attacks on houses of worship have become all too common."

Winkler said the cycle of violence is also known as "the Myth of Redemptive Violence."

He cited Dylann Roof, the murderer who killed those engaged in Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, said he murdered black people because he believed they raped white women daily.

"Timothy McVeigh asserted his bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was in retaliation for various attacks and raids carried out by federal agents over the years."

Winkler said, "The drums of war and violence are beating once again. Frank Gaffney, president of 'Save the Persecuted Christians,' and a longtime purveyor of Islamophobia, is demanding the U.S. government use the tools at its disposal to punish those who attack Christians.

"There are those who would love nothing more than a 'holy war' to cleanse the world of people they refuse to accept."

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