Baptist leaders joined other Christians around the world in calling for prayer following coordinated Easter Sunday bombings at three churches and several hotels in Sri Lanka that killed more than 300 people.
Elijah Brown, general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, reported on Facebook he had been in contact with Baptist leaders in Sri Lanka.
After nine explosions claimed more than 300 lives and injured another 500, “we need God’s special intervention,” Brown wrote, adding a request for “justice for the affected families.”
Zion Church, an evangelical congregation in Batticaloa, reported 28 deaths, including 12 children, according to the Times of India. Other bombs exploded at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo.
“Please uphold these families,” Brown wrote.
He specifically asked Baptists worldwide to pray for Heshan de Silva, president of Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya and chair of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka, writing, “Surround him in prayer as he helps lead through this time.”
The Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board requested prayer:
- “For those who have lost family members to be comforted by the God of all comfort.”
- “For those who are injured to receive needed care.”
- “For those who can’t find family to be reconnected.”
- “For believers to be the hands and feet of Christ and to pour forth a sweet aroma. Hearts are hurting.”
- “That God would use this situation to draw men and women, boys and girls to himself … for his honor and glory.”
‘We grieve with hope’
A Southern Baptist media specialist based in Southeast Asia wrote online that the Easter Sunday bombings “stand as a grim reminder of the need for the gospel in a broken world.”
“The juxtaposition of such deadly actions against Christ’s utter defeat of death—on Resurrection Day, no less—is palpable. We Christians felt the pang of death, and we continue to grieve with brothers and sisters whose lives are at stake for the sake of the gospel each day,” she wrote.
“But we grieve with hope, and we proclaim a gospel that offers the same hope to those who would place their faith in Christ—hope of victory over death and eternity free of brokenness and suffering.”
Sri Lankan governmental officials acknowledged warnings received days before the attacks that referred to National Thowheed Jamath, a relatively obscure local Islamist group previously known for defacing Buddhist statues, but also indicated the likelihood of a wider international network. The self-described Islamic State—also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh—claimed responsibility two days after the suicide bombings.
Russell Moore, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, tweeted: “The governing authorities must bring this anti-Christian terrorist cell, and any who empowered them, to justice. The shedding of innocent human blood is always an atrocity; an attack on Easter is further shocking in its cruelty.”