A few weeks ago, my plane touched down in the beautiful island nation of Sri Lanka. As I traveled to several regions of this Buddhist-majority country and observed its Independence Day celebrations on February 4th, it was easy to forget that Sri Lanka suffered a series of horrific terror attacks less than ten months prior.
On Easter Sunday last year, a local extremist group bombed three churches and three luxury hotels, taking the lives of 259 people.
These attacks re-ignited trauma in a nation that emerged from a bloody 26-year civil war only ten years earlier.
The Sri Lankan Civil War was fought primarily along ethnic lines; it pitted the Sri Lankan Army, with support of the country’s ethnic-majority Sinhalese people, against the insurgent Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or “Tamil Tigers”. The Tamil Tigers aimed to carve out a separate state in northern and eastern Sri Lanka – underdeveloped regions dominated by the island’s largest ethnic minority, the Tamils.
Harvest Bridge has worked in Sri Lanka since 2011; our local missionary partners live and serve in the country’s northern region, where the great majority of fighting took place during the civil war. Consequently, our partners have decades of experience caring for survivors of trauma, and they were well-positioned to help those affected by last year’s terror attacks.
Through your generosity, we provided critical and timely assistance to seriously-injured people and their families in Batticaloa, where one of the church attacks took place.
In the months following the Easter bombings, Sri Lanka has grappled with renewed ethnic tensions and questions around the authorities’ failure to heed various indications that attacks were imminent.
The presidential election held in November reflected these dynamics; the country’s Sinhalese Buddhist majority carried Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whose brother Mahinda faces accusations of war crimes for his role in ending the civil war, to victory. Though Rajapaksa is hailed as a hero and a strong leader by many, Sri Lanka’s minority ethnic and religious groups – Hindus, Muslims, and Christians – fear that their situation may worsen under the new government.
Amid these complexities, I was deeply encouraged by the resilience of Sri Lanka’s Christians.
Despite suffering immensely during the civil war and being targeted in the Easter bombings, Sri Lankan followers of Jesus lovingly serve their countrymen and work for the nation’s holistic flourishing by proclaiming and demonstrating the Gospel. Our partners’ response to the Easter bombings, their ongoing outreach to non-Christians, and their care for those traumatized by the horrors of war through counseling and other ministries are but a few examples.
Ultimately, it is Sri Lanka’s own people who will bring healing and transformation to their nation. Your partnership with Harvest Bridge plays a crucial role in this. We work with local Christians because they know how best to serve, love, and proclaim Christ in their unique cultural contexts.
Your prayers and support enable fruitful Sri Lankan missionaries to shine the light of the Gospel into the darkness of post-war environments, terror attack trauma, and fears of an uncertain political future.
Thank you for being the hands and feet of the Lord through your prayers and support, extending God’s kingdom in Sri Lanka and throughout South Asia!
Director of International Partnerships