The Rev. Steven Mahlburg, LCMS missionary to Sri Lanka, wrote this update regarding work in Sri Lanka. As he encourages in the letter, please keep the Ceylon Evangelical Lutheran Church (CELC), our missionaries, and the people of Sri Lanka in your prayers.
Dear Friends in Christ:
On Easter Sunday, our family gathered with three congregations at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church located in the Sri Lankan mountains. Rev. Nadaraja conducted the service; Evangelist Anton assisted; I preached about the resurrection of our Lord. During this service, we rejoiced as God raised three souls to new life in the waters of Holy Baptism. We thanked God as six baptized children of God confessed their faith in Jesus Christ and were confirmed.
After the service concluded, we learned of the terrorist attacks against three Christian churches and three luxury hotels. Rev. Nadaraja called the worshipers back together to pray for the victims and for the country. We were shocked and saddened by the terrible news.
I made several phone calls and learned that our fellow missionary family, the Naumanns, were unharmed. I also learned that all of our partner church congregations, mission stations, pastors, and evangelists were unharmed as well. Praise be to God.
At the advice of several local people, we decided not to return home to Colombo on Sunday. Later, the government imposed a curfew that would have prevented us from returning. Monday morning, they lifted the curfew, and we returned to Colombo with no problems. We were thankful to find that our apartment complex had implemented extra security measures.
Monday, we learned that Duncan and Rose’s friend from school was at one of the hotels that was attacked, and he was among the fatalities. Lord, have mercy.
All schools and universities were cancelled the week after Easter. Our children’s school is closed until further notice as they implement new safety protocols. The country is on high alert. Social media is blocked. Traffic in Colombo is lighter than normal. Many shops and restaurants have closed or have shortened hours. We have stayed in our apartment as much as possible.
It is clear that this attack was mainly directed at Christians at a time that the churches would have been full. Satan was behind these attacks.
During my Easter morning sermon I proclaimed: “The devil and the demons tried to stop Jesus. When Jesus hung on the cross dead, He looked defeated. Looks are deceiving. When Jesus hung on the cross dead, He had defeated Satan and the evil spirits. Jesus rose from the dead.”
This terrorist attack may seem like a defeat, but Jesus rose from the dead and has given us the victory. All those martyred Christians are with Jesus in heaven and will be raised on the last day. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26).
Please pray for the injured and the mourning. Pray for Sri Lanka. Pray for the terrorists. Pray for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for all your prayers and concerns.
Pr. Steven Mahlburg