On Easter Sunday a series of bomb attacks hit churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. Jackson was just 13 – he was one of the hundreds who lost their lives. He was at the Sunday school at Zion Church when a bomb was detonated. His aunt and uncle also died in the attack.
Image: Verlini, Jackson and Ranjith.
Open Doors field workers, visited Arasaratnam Verl – Jackson’s father.
“My son, Jackson, and my sister died on the spot,” Verl said. “My brother-in-law died a week after the incident in the hospital.”
“Jackson was team captain of his basketball team,” Verl continued. “He used to compete in many places like Jaffna, Colombo. He’s the best in everything. He’s my only son.”
“Losing someone hurts. They are special people. They were not killed. They were sown. They are like seeds. And the blood of the martyrs are the seeds of the church.
“Jesus died on Good Friday, and on Easter Sunday, He was resurrected. My son, sister, and brother-in-law died, but they were resurrected with Jesus on that day.”
Despite the heartache, grief and loss, Verl committed to dedicating his life to God, even after the accident. “God is good,” he said. “God is great. My foundation is Jesus Christ. I’m zero. Jesus is everything.”
He continued, “My son was mine for 13 years, but he is His forever.”
Amidst the devastation, the Open Doors teams visit ends with hope.
“Pastor Kumaran, Assistant Pastor of Zion Church, lost his 14-year-old son Malkiya in the attack. Tearfully, this is what he said to us: ‘I’m not asking God why, I’m only asking how I can pass through this, and how long.’
This is the promise of God in Romans 8:35-39:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
No one can separate our Sri Lanka brethren from the love of Jesus.
Thank you for your prayers. Grace and peace.”
What happened in those churches on Easter Sunday will affect people for the rest of their lives. But Open Doors is committed to providing long-term trauma care and counselling, and help to families who have lost a source of income. We’ll support approximately 250 families in the affected areas. And this is entirely due to you. Open Doors partners will also host persecution survival training seminars, because, sadly, we cannot assume the threat has gone away.
This is actually the kind of training that Open Doors has offered globally for decades. One of the most shocking, outrageous things about this event is that what happened in Sri Lanka is not unique. Every week, Christians around the world risk their lives by going to church.
Loving God, thank You for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka. Be amongst them as they meet in their churches. Strengthen them by Your Holy Spirit and enable them to see You – for You see them and are closer to them than the breath they breathe.
We pray for all who were caught up in the attacks on their churches and communities on Easter Day. Bring healing to those who were injured and comfort those who have experienced loss.
Thank You for all who are visiting the affected, praying with them and listening to their needs. Give them all the resources they need to bring our brothers and sisters comfort and hope.
We pray for those who were behind the attacks. Sovereign God, You understand their motives – only You can change their hearts. Risen Lord, give them a true Easter experience and turn their lives around – for Your glory.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.