WEA Religious Liberty Prayer News – August 17th, 2012

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"Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison,
and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."

Hebrews 13:3

Dear Friends in Christ, 

We have received the following distressing report from the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka.

We ask that you join in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka who are facing pressure and persecution for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL): Attacks on Christians 

We are deeply disturbed by the recurring incidents of religious intolerance against minority religious communities; the most recent of these incidents targeted Christians in Deniyaya.

The pastor of the Assemblies of God who is also the Regional Presbyter for the region and his wife visited a church member and her daughter around 1 pm on the 9th of August 2012. While on their way back home on their motor bike, they found the road obstructed by logs. They moved the logs and proceeded on their way when at a junction, their motorbike was cut off by a powerful pajero type vehicle, throwing the pastor's wife on to the ground. They were then accosted by a large mob of about 40 men, accompanied by 5 Buddhist clergy and a member of the Pradeshiya Sabha who arrived in a truck and 3 trishaws.

The mob advancing on them were carrying rocks and had shouted  "attack them", and "'kill them". They were joined by the person riding in the pajero vehicle identified as a person with very close connections to a senior government politician. The pastor was dragged along the ground and beaten by the mob. His wife was scolded in abusive language. The Pradeshiya Sabha member demanded to know who gave him permission to live in this area. The pastor had replied that he had resided in Deniyaya for many years and did not need anyone's permission to be there. They accused him of preaching Christianity and threatened to kill him if he did not stop.

The mob then forcibly dragged the pastor and his wife to the house which the couple visited earlier. They shouted at the lady of the house and her daughter asking how much they were paid to convert to Christianity. They replied that they have been Christians long before they moved to Deniyaya and their decision to follow Christianity was a personal decision based on their convictions and that they did not received money from anyone. The pastor was beaten again but he and his wife had managed to escape from the mob and make their way home. They were followed by the pajero up to their home.

The pastor suffered injuries to his legs and body, but did not want to go to the hospital as he feared they would be followed there too and harmed further.

The pastor has made a statement to the Deniyaya police the same day about the attack. The pastor's and his wife's ID cards, his mobile phone, Bible and other documents were stolen during the assault. On 10th August, several persons including church members whose numbers were stored on the pastor's phone had received bogus calls from a person pretending to be the pastor, asking them to come and meet him at various locations. 

In a related incident, soon after the above assault, the attackers made their way to the home of a lady Christian worker from the Methodist Church in Deniyaya and had threatened her in abusive language to leave the house before Monday. Another church worker who arrived at the scene was also threatened and his ID card taken.

A complaint has been made to the Police and they later recovered and returned the ID card.

Deniyaya has a multi ethnic and multi religious population including a small population of Christians who are fearful of further attacks and intimidation. Every citizen of this land has an equal and inviolable right to live in any part of our country and practice his or her own religion peacefully and without fear of mob violence. 

"Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a disgrace to any people"
(Proverbs 14: 34)

Related Articles:
> Global Alliance Calls for Increased Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka
> National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka Condemns Siege of Mosque