Pastor Viran* was leading a church service at Mercy Gate Chapel Church in Amalgama, Sri Lanka, when he started hearing a commotion that only grew in volume. It ended in a riot as 600 enraged individuals entered his church. Some were carrying weapons. They demanded the pastor stop all activities—present and future—and close the church down permanently. If Pastor Viran didn’t comply, they threatened to take his life.
One congregant stood up to the crowd, but was severely beaten and would spend the next two days in a hospital.
What’s most shocking is that there were 20 police officers present at the time of the mob breakout. They refused to intercede and there were no arrests.
But through it all, Pastor Viran denied closing his church.
However, in Sri Lanka, it can be very easy to shut down a church. Just for churches to open, they need a myriad of permits and documentation from the government, which are often withheld, causing churches to go months or years without the proper paperwork.
Just over a week after the incident at Mercy Gate Chapel Church, a local meeting was held, including government officials, police officers and monks. At the meeting, it was decided the church should close immediately—that it was not a real church.
Ten police officers then arrived at Pastor Viran’s door and told him to cease all religious activities.
How disheartening for Pastor Viran and his congregation. We pray 1 Peter 5:8 over them, that they “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” We know where God closes one door, He’ll surely open another—as He’s done again and again.
Will you join us in praying for Pastor Viran and his congregation—persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka?
Father God, we know no mob—no matter how large—can stop Your Word from transforming lives. We ask You be with Pastor Viran and his congregation, that they will find a way to continue to meet and serve You, even if it means an underground church. Bless them with ways to outsmart the enemy that prowls like a roaring lion. Bless them with alert and sober minds. And may Your name be praised through all. Amen.
*Representative name and photo used to preserve security
About the author
Tim Dustin strives daily to write and share the stories of the persecuted with the global Church. Read the latest Christian persecution stories on our website and learn more at GlobalChristianRelief.org.