A pastor of a Sri Lankan church struck by terrorists on Easter Sunday has issued a call to forgive those behind the wave of attacks that hit three places of worship and three high-end hotels where Christians celebrated the holy day.
An estimated 253 were killed, according to The Associated Press.
“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,” the Rev. Roshan Mahesan, said in a video posted by The Life, a British-based Christian charity.
In the video, Mahesan noted that forgiveness has been rooted in Christianity from the time of 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 to forgive these people,” Mahesan said.
Mahesan said that Christ cares for all people.
“Jesus looks at you as a person, He doesn’t look at your religion. He doesn’t look at your culture. He doesn’t look at anything,” Mahesan said. “For Him, you are His child. We are all lost. Jesus came into this world to seek and find the lost.”
Mahesan vowed that his church will continue the “call and mission the Lord has given us.”
“People in this world are lost. We take the Gospel and we show Christ,” he said. “We show those who are sitting in the darkness the light of Jesus Christ.
“Only in Jesus, we have our hope. Only in Jesus, you have all the answers for your life’s problems.”
Mahesan further thanked the churches and Christians worldwide who have prayed for him and his church.
His words drew praise on social media.
We need people who think and behave like this in our world. Someone must be the bigger man as it is said, less violence will only continue to breed more violence.
I am no Christian nor Islam, but my heart is still out to these people as a human being.https://t.co/sunnTFyrJM
— Zoey (@ZoeyCrimson) April 29, 2019
“Father forgive them as they know not what they do” pic.twitter.com/uzpuhpNW1Y
— Gotcha Drive Limited (@GotchaDrive) April 23, 2019
On Sunday, the country’s highest-ranking Roman Catholic, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, spoke to the nation via a televised Mass. Most Catholic churches were closed for safety across the island nation off the coast of India.
“This is a time our hearts are tested by the great destruction that took place last Sunday. This is a time questions such as, ‘Does God truly love us?’ ‘Does He have compassion towards us?’ can arise in human hearts,” Ranjith said, according to The Guardian.
Last week, as Sri Lankans buried their dead, Ranjith had sounded a different note as he called for civilians to remain peaceful but charged the government to hunt down those who attacked the churches and “punish them mercilessly, because only animals can behave like that,” The Washington Post reported.
Officials have said a local Islamic extremist group was behind the attacks. However, last week officials found flags and other materials belonging to the Islamic State when they raided one location used by the group.
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