Three years ago, Rebekah suffered severe burns and lost three loved ones when suicide bombers attacked her church in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Now she is celebrating her wedding. The story of Rebekah is a powerful example of how God gives birth to hope in the ashes, but it also reminds us of the danger thas persecuted Christians face during the Easter holidays.
The celebration of Easter in Sri Lanka in 2019 turned to destruction, with three of the six bombings targeted churches (other explosions took place in hotels). More than 250 people were killed and even more injured in almost simultaneous attacks.
Drawing strength from Jesus in the midst of suffering
Rebekah was on the east coast of the country at Batticaloa City Church when it was attacked. Her sister, son-in-law and nephew died, and she herself suffered third-degree burns. This has had serious mental and physical consequences. Rebekah was in the intensive care unit for several weeks and underwent many surgeries.
When Rebekah was discharged from the hospital, she began to help and care for her orphaned sisters daughter and son, while mourning the loss of her loved ones. Rebekah told local Open Doors partners that it was difficult for her to celebrate Christmas or birthdays because the pain was so great.
Local partners contacted Rebekah and her family to support them and have noticed how God has not only brought healing but has helped Rebekah become a very strong and courageous woman. It shows how Rebekah turned to Jesus during her suffering. “My heart is full of deep peace,” Rebekah described in an interview two years ago. “I know that God is turning everything in our favor, because I have experienced it in my life.”
Marriage and a fresh start
Now Rebekah has experienced the joy and excitement of marriage. It is a beautiful reminder of how God can create hope from the ashes — as He did on the first Easter more than 2,000 years ago.
Rebekah’s husband is the pastor’s son. They begin their life together in the northern city of Jaffna. This is a new beginning for Rebekah, who is deeply grateful for the way the Christian family around the world has helped her through prayers and practical ways over the past three years. “As a result of your prayers, we have been able to endure in faith,” he says.
Rebekah needs even more surgery. The move to Jaffna also marks the separation from the family living in Batticoloa, who long for her presence and support. Continue to pray for Rebekah, her husband and her family as she changes and continues to heal.
The risk increases during the Easter holidays
The suffering caused by the bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday reflects the heightened threat to millions of Christians around the world during Easter Week. Last year, suicide bombers attacked Christians returning from Palm Sunday service in Indonesia. Easter attacks have also taken place in Pakistan in 2016 and in Egypt on a palm tree in 2017.
The danger means that in many areas, Christians will participate in Easter events and celebrations for fear of revenge. Nevertheless, our Christian sisters and brothers dare to gather because they do not want to lose the valuable opportunity to gather to remember the importance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Pray for persecuted Christians.