Sri Lankan pastor offers forgiveness to attackers

Pastor Roshan Mahesen of Zion Church in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka is determined to carry on.

The pastor of one of the churches targeted in Sri Lanka says he forgives the attackers.

Pastor Roshan Mahesen was interviewed in London shortly after the bombings and the Evangelical Alliance of the United Kingdom (EAUK) sent out a press release which highlighted a video interview with the pastor.

Following is their article:

The leader of the evangelical church bombed in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday has spoken out, offering forgiveness to the attackers, and thanks to all who have offered prayer and support. Pastor Roshan Mahesen also spoke of his commitment to continue the church’s mission.

Speaking in London this week Pastor Roshan said:

We are hurt. We are angry also, but still, as the senior pastor of Zion Church Batticaloa, the whole congregation and every family affected, we say to the suicide bomber, and also to the group that sent the suicide bomber, that we love you and we forgive you, no matter what you have done to us, we love you, because we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ on the Cross, he said father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. We also, who follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we say, for the Lord forgive these people.

In the video shared by Sri Lankan Christian ministry ‘The Life’, Pastor Roshan went on to say:

I want to take this opportunity to thank every church around the world, every believer, every person known to me and unknown to me who has contacted me, calling me, sending messages of condolences, and then words of encouragement.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, every word you speak brings such comfort and strength. We will stand and continue what the lord has purposed in our life and we are ready, and we will continue to fulfil the mission the Lord has given us.

Pastor Chrishanthy Sathiyaraj, leader of a Sri Lankan church which brings together Tamil and Sinhalese Christians and founder of ‘The Life’ ministry, interviewed Pastor Roshan earlier this week while he was visiting the UK.

Pastor Chrishanthy is part of the Evangelical Alliance UK’s council and commented:

These atrocious attacks have shocked the world, the violence has impacted my friends and family and many in the Sri Lankan community in the UK know people who have died.

If only we can hear Pastor Roshan’s words and respond with forgiveness instead of hate. Jesus Christ calls us to love even those who persecute us, and what is more powerful than to choose to love in circumstances such as these. Let’s forgive, stand together and build the kingdom of God. Don’t give up.

Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance UK, joined a prayer gathering earlier this week following the attacks as Sri Lankan leaders prayed together. Responding to the video Steve Clifford said:

I am mourning with my Sri Lankan brothers and sisters in Christ as they bury loved ones, as church communities are shaken by the violence inflicted on them and as others live in fear that the same might strike them.

Pastor Roshan offers love and forgiveness that can only come from knowing that we are forgiven by Jesus. I will continue to pray for him and all the believers in Sri Lanka, that they will know hope in Jesus that overcomes all fear.

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) distributed the EAUK interview more widely in order “to give greater exposure to the moving testimony of Pastor Roshan Mahesen and invite Christians to continue to pray for their brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka.”

Bishop Efraim Tendero, Secretary General of WEA, expressed his solidarity with the Christians in Sri Lanka in a statement after the attacks, saying:

We are deeply saddened and troubled by the news of the targeted attacks on worshippers and other innocent people on Easter Sunday. As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we now also mourn the loss of lives due to this heartless violence. We call on churches around the world to join us in prayer for those affected, and that God’s strong and comforting presence may be with them in this tragedy. May God help them to hold onto the faith of the resurrection and experience the peace that transcends all understanding.

The EAUK press release was posted on the WEA site.

Last week I posted a story about a local pastor whose brother just missed being in Zion Church on Easter morning, along with the vigils he (the pastor) attended and some of the issues raised by the attacks.

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