Sri Lanka
By kckate16

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NRSV)

Neil was a pastor in Sri Lanka who was murdered amid a spate of violence against Christians in the country. He was killed by gunmen outside his house in Ampara on 17 February 2008. The attackers also shot and wounded his wife, who was holding their young son at the time.

On the same day a mob of about 50 people, armed with rods, gathered on the road leading to a church in Mathugama, Kaluthara District, and put up anti-Christian posters during the Sunday service. As the worshippers left the building, the mob hurled verbal abuse and threats at them and barred their way, pushing and pulling them. One man and a ten-year-old child were assaulted, and two women were manhandled and pulled by their hair.

The harassment continued the following Sunday when a crowd armed with various tools – on the pretext of cutting grass on the roadside – waited for members of the congregation to arrive for the service. They threatened the Christians and blocked them from attending. Then on 2 March ten Bible school students were attacked on their way to their college in Lunuwila, Putlam District, by a group of about ten masked men on motorcycles. The men beat the students with fists and sticks. More men in a van joined them, and one of the students was pulled into the van and beaten and kicked severely. The attackers left the injured students on the road and disappeared. Nine students required hospital treatment.

O Christ, give us patience and faith and hope as we kneel at the foot of thy Cross, and hold fast to it. Teach us by thy Cross that however ill the world may go, the Father so loved us that he spared not thee.

Charles Kingsley (1819-75)

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.