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The suicide bomber killed 14 children and 12 adults in the evangelical Zion Church of Batticaloa. “We will continue to fulfil the mission the Lord has given us”, the senior pastor said.
On Easter Sunday, suicide bombers killed and injured hundreds at churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka.
Although the official death toll had reached 359 by Thursday, the Sri Lankan government later revised that figure down to 253.
One of the churches attacked was the evangelical Zion Church of Batticaloa, where 14 children (7 girls and 7 boys) and 12 adults were killed, while around 130 have been treated in Batticaloa Teaching Hospital, and seven of them are still in a critical condition.
The 14-year-old second son of Zion Church’s pastor, Ganeshamoorthy Kumaran, was among the children who died in the explosion.
“WE FORGIVE YOU BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST”
“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”, Roshan Mahesen, senior pastor of Zion Church said in an interview.
Mahesen pointed out that “Jesus Christ on the cross said father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. We also, who follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, ask the Lord to forgive these people”.
“WE WILL CONTINUE WITH THE MISSION THE LORD HAS GIVEN US”
“I want to take this opportunity to thank every church around the world, every believer, every person known and unknown to me who has contacted me, calling me, sending messages of condolences, and words of encouragement”, he added
The pastor stressed that they “will stand and continue what the lord has purposed in our life, we are ready, and we will continue to fulfil the mission the Lord has given us”.
BOMBER APPARENTLY WANTED TO TARGET A CATHOLIC CHURCH
The attack took place around 9 am, local time, just as the Easter Sunday worship service was about to begin. Zion Church is located in Batticaloa, the major city in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, the only location outside the capital that was hit.
According to the residents, a suspicious character went first to St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, and asked about the mass there, but they told him that it had begun earlier than usual. The almost 1000 people who attended, had left by 8.30 am.
It was then when the suspect made his way to the smaller evangelical Zion Church, about 50 metres down the road, and asked Pastor Kumaran “details about the church”.
WORSHIPPER DIED PREVENTING A BIGGER TRAGEDY
“I invited him into the church, as I thought he was like the many new people who come to our church. So I didn’t have any doubts or suspicions about him”, local Pastor Kumaran said.
Pastor Kumaran then left with his wife and youngest daughter for a service in another church, and the suspect continued walking alone around the church, carrying a large backpack.
One of the worshippers sensed something was wrong, so that challenged him about why he was coming to church. The man claimed his backpack had a video camera to film the service, but the member of the church informed him that he needed a permission and forced him to leave.
Barred from entering the church, the man reportedly detonated the bomb and blew himself just outside the church, when the children were having their Sunday school breakfast.
The worshipper also died, preventing a bigger tragedy inside the church, where 500 people waited for the service to start.