On the morning of Easter Sunday 2019, a joyous day when hope and faith are renewed, we heard the devastating news of suicide bombings across Sri Lanka.
A country struggling to rebuild itself following the three-decade bloody conflict that killed tens of thousands of people had been struck again, this time the minority Christian community was its target. Over 250 were killed and upwards of 500 injured.
Having visited this beautiful country back in February, I was heartbroken.
In 2014 the Leprosy Mission began training pastors and church leaders so they could offer practical help and advice about leprosy. Initially it was a project run through evangelical churches but then, amazingly, other faith communities wanted to be involved from Anglicans to Catholics and then Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus. This resulted in nearly 10,000 people hearing about leprosy through 78 interfaith awareness events as well as another 20,640 people being reached through 349 leprosy awareness Sundays.
Meeting our partners in Sri Lanka I heard of some incredible ‘God moments’ where people who traditionally wouldn’t be in the same room are now working together to find and cure those with leprosy (see photo). For example, the President of the Leprosy People’s Forum for Change, Nahamani, 73, is a Hindu Tamil working closely with his Vice-President Amarasinghe, 38, a Singhalese Buddhist.
We were devastated to learn that one of the three churches targeted on Easter Sunday – the Zion Church in Batticaloa – was where a leprosy Sunday service had been carried out in January.
With this catastrophic loss of life we weep as God weeps and our request for prayer is that the reconciliation between religious and ethnic groups will only grow stronger following the Easter Sunday tragedy.
Article by: Peter Waddup
National Director, The Leprosy Mission England and Wales