Sri Lanka: Incident Report, April 2009

General April 18, 2009

Gang breaks in to Church and steals documents
Methodist Church 
Pepiliyana, Dehiwela (Colombo District) 

5th April 2009
An unidentified gang broke in through the back door and windows of this 150 year old church during the night. The intruders looted valuable musical instruments, Bibles, Hymn Books and other documents including Baptism and marriage records. The attackers took away all church documents and records from the church office. They were seen leaving the scene during the early hours of the morning in a white coloured van.  

Although items of value were also taken, church sources say the deliberate removal of church records and documents which are of no monetary value indicate the motive was not robbery. The incident occurred the same night after the church celebrated Palm Sunday with a traditional procession. The Boralasgamuwa Police are investigating.   

Pastor threatened with death 
Jeevanaloka Sabhawa 
Weeraketiya (Hambanthota District) 

8th - 13th April 2009  

8th April
Four men stood outside the house of the pastor shouting “Christian come out” while the pastor's wife and two children were alone at home. They were frightened by the shouts of the men who were threatening to kill the pastor. Receiving a phone call from his terrified wife, The pastor immediately returned home fearing for the safety of his family. A short while later he received a telephone call from the man who led the gang, threatening him with death unless he left the village by morning. He continued to harass the family with several threatening calls during the next few hours.   

Later that same night the same man pounded on their front door shouting abuse and threats demanding the pastor to come outside. Going by the common knowledge in the village that this man possessed weapons and his own boasts that he is not afraid to use them, the pastor attempted to reason with him and persuade him to leave and not terrify his children. However the intruder continued his verbal abuse until the police who were called in arrived and placed him under arrest.   

9th April
After his release from police custody, the intruder of the previous night initiated a petition against the church with the assistance of other villagers and several Buddhist temples around the area. The house owner of the pastor was threatened to evict the family or face serious damage to his house. The pastor's frightened children are temporarily relocated for safety.    

10th & 12th April
The church cancelled Good Friday and Easter Sunday worship services, as a precautionary measure.   

13th April
News reaches the pastor of a plot to attack him while on his way to pick up his children and the pastor cancels his journey.  

Christians threatened  
Several church congregations in   
Kommatalamadu and Amanthanaveli, Vakari (Batticaloa District) 

April 2009
Christians from have been experiencing difficulty to meet together for worship due to threats. Early this week, a pastoral worker visiting Christian families was threatened and chased away by the majority Hindu villagers.       

Please uphold the above mentioned pastors and congregations in prayer.  

We share this with you for prayer - NCEASL