Sri Lankan Chuch Continues To Meet Despite Destruction

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (BosNewsLife)-- The leader of a church in northwestern Sri Lanka which was destroyed by suspected Buddhist militants says his congregation will continue worship services. "No attack can stop us. We shall continue to meet and pray under a tree," said Kamal Wasantha, who leads the Kithu Sevana Prayer Centre in Paharaiya. "We shall continue to meet and pray under a tree."

While the January 5 attack left the congregation of 15 Christian families and 20 other worshippers without a church building, he said they have no desire for revenge. "(We)shall not attack them in retaliation...Judgment belongs to God," Kamal stressed in published remarks.

A mob, allegedly led by a Buddhist monk, after they had "threatened" the Christians verbally," Kamal explained. "Then they came with wooden sticks, iron bars and knives, and destroyed everything. (People) begged the attackers not to damage the place of worship."

Four days prior to the attack, a Buddhist monk from the Gothamiramaya area reportedly threatened the Christians with "serious punishment" if they continued to gather at the church.

MANY WITNESSES

Though some 200 witnesses reportedly named the monk and 12 other people as attackers, the accused perpetrators remain free on bail, according to Christians familiar with the situation.

Christians have linked the attack to Buddhist anger over the quickly growing church, which included Christian converts from other faiths. That apparently attracted the attention of those in the village who do not tolerate Buddhists changing their religion to Christianity.

Kamal, himself a former Buddhist, said he "cannot abandon (this) mission just because of the attacks."

Minority Christians have faced growing opposition from Buddhists in Sri Lanka.

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