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lk church burned wwm
The Kithu Sevana prayer centre that was destroyed.
Photo: World Watch Monitor

The leader of a Sri Lankan church destroyed by a mob earlier this month has vowed that the church will continue to meet. Kamal Wasantha, leader of the Kithu Sevana Prayer Centre, states: "No attack can stop us. We shall continue to meet and pray under a tree." Despite the attack leaving the Christian community of 15 families and 20 other worshippers nowhere to meet, they have no desire for revenge. "(We) shall not attack them in retaliation," he adds. "Judgement belongs to God."

On January 5th, a group of people, allegedly led by a Buddhist monk, attacked the church in Paharaiya, northwestern Sri Lanka. "First, they threatened us verbally," Kamal explains. "Then they came with wooden sticks, iron bars and knives, and destroyed everything. (People) begged the attackers not to damage the place of worship."

Four days prior to the attack, a Buddhist monk from Gothamiramaya reportedly threatened them with "serious punishment" if they continued to lead worship at the church. A complaint was filed with the police by the leaders of the church and warnings were given to others in the Christian community. Then on January 5th, two of the church leaders and the monk were summoned to the police station. Ironically, the attack happened that same night. About 200 witnesses named the monk and 12 other people as the attackers. The accused perpetrators of the crime remain free on bail.

The church was growing quickly and, with all its members being from other faiths, this attracted the attention of those in the village who do not tolerate Buddhists changing their religion to Christianity. Kamal, himself a Buddhist convert, says he "cannot abandon (this) mission just because of the attacks."