Sri Lanka Church Bombing Survivors Say: ‘Prayer Is the Most Powerful Weapon’

Sri Lanka Church Bombing Survivors Say: ‘Prayer Is the Most Powerful Weapon’

Photo by Stringer/Getty Images
Photo by Stringer/Getty Images

In the immediate aftermath of the deadly church bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, which claimed the lives of nearly 300 people, survivors of the bloody terrorist attacks are asking Christians around the globe to pray.

Sarah Cunningham, senior communications director for Open Doors, a faith-based nonprofit working with persecuted Christians internationally, told Faithwire survivors in Sri Lanka have said prayer “is the most powerful weapon” they have to combat the evils of terrorism.

She went on to explain that the attack — the deadliest in recent history — “is for sure unprecedented for that area,” noting Sri Lanka is No. 46 on the organization’s annual World Watch List, which tracks the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians.

“There’s always tension between them,” Cunningham said of the friction between the Buddhist, Muslim and Christian factions in Sri Lanka. She added there are sometimes instances of harassment and pressuring, “but nothing anywhere close to this degree of violence or to this degree of planning.”

“That, I think, is what is most shocking,” she said. “The [local pastors] were very surprised that their congregations were targeted because they had really no inkling that anyone had any hostility at that level toward them.”

This attack should sound the alarm

For many in the West, the idea that Christians are facing unparalleled persecution — they are the most persecuted religious demographic, according to the Pew Research Center — is hard to understand.

Cunningham said Open Doors is hopeful Sunday’s tragic bombings will raise awareness about the plight of Christians around the world.

“Something we’re hopeful of is this will bring the plight of persecuted Christians onto the world’s radar,” she said. “We’re hoping it will make politicians and leaders in the free world — and especially here, in the United States — pay close attention to Christians who face everything from discrimination and harassment to false imprisonment and rape and killings.”

These kinds of crimes against Christians, she explained, are “commonplace” in countries outside the Western world, and the data bears that out.

From a practical standpoint, Open Doors has launched a rapid response effort Cunningham described as a “two-pronged approach” between on-the-ground assistance and prayer support. The former is still being built out based on the constantly shifting needs of the people in Sri Lanka.

The Christian nonprofit, which has a permanent, native presence Sri Lanka, is also asking believers around the world to participate in its virtual prayer wall. Cunningham said people can visit the site to submit written prayers to those who survived the Easter bombings.

“We’re trying to have people type [their prayers] out because it will send the message that they are not alone,” Cunningham said of those in the South Asian country. “Because especially for a minority group, who might be treated as second-class citizens, they might not have the typical support system that you and I would expect if something like this happened.”

She added it’s important for persecuted Christians to know there are “thousands and thousands of people around the world who are rooting for you, who are empathetic toward your plight, who are rallying their leaders to respond positively to your need.”

For those interested in learning more about Open Doors or donating to its rapid response for those impacted by the church bombings in Sri Lanka, click here.

Franklin Graham’s ‘Festival of Hope’ Reaches 94,500 Colombians, Venezuelan Refugees with Love of Christ

Franklin Graham’s ‘Festival of Hope’ Reaches 94,500 Colombians, Venezuelan Refugees with Love of Christ

Colombian citizens and Venezuelan refugees gathered at a soccer stadium in Cúcuta, Colombia, at the border of Venezuela, to hear Franklin Graham share the message of salvation over two nights this Easter weekend.

More than 400 local churches in Cúcuta joined Graham in inviting refugees and local families. The first night, a crowd of 52,000 people filled the city’s fútbol stadium.

Graham told CBN News on Monday that he believes God is using the physical needs of the refugees from Venezuela to open their hearts spiritually.

He said what happened at the services amazed him. “It was more than I ever expected,” he said, “We had about 116,000 people come to 3 meetings. We had 7,000 or so make decisions for Jesus Christ. The hunger was incredible.”

On Facebook Graham shared “We praise God for each one who made the most important decision of their lives—to repent of their sins and trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.”

“It was Good Friday, and I shared the reason that Jesus came to earth. We are all sinners, and the price of sin is death,” he added. “We all deserve to die, but He took our place. He went to the cross for us where He died, was buried, and rose again on the third day. The Bible says, ‘But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8).”

The second night, a crowd of 42,500 filled the stadium.

“The stadium in Cúcuta was filled again tonight with an incredible crowd of 42,500!” he wrote. “Cúcuta, Colombia, sits right on the border with Venezuela, and people were there from both Colombia and Venezuela. We praise God for each one who came and for every heart that was changed for eternity by the power of the Gospel.”

“The Bible says, ‘that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’ (Romans 10:9). That’s what we celebrate this Easter! Jesus Christ didn’t stay in the grave. He rose from the dead and He’s alive today,” he continued. “He sits at the right hand of the Father and He is willing to come into any heart that will repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in Him.”

“I’m deeply grateful to the Festival of Hope committee here in Cúcuta, the churches and pastors, and all of the volunteers, who prayed and worked so hard to make this weekend possible. Join me in praying for all those who made decisions for Christ this weekend and for the churches who will be reaching out to them,” he added.

The weekend also included a mission event for children to hear the gospel where over 20,000 refugees and local families came out.

Graham’s charity, Samaritan’s Purse, also held one of the largest US-based and faith-based humanitarian missions for Venezuelan refugees since the country started collapsing. Crews gave overnight shelter, food, hygiene kits, primary medical care and more to Venezuelan refugees in multiple locations.

Source: http://www1.cbn.com

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