“I don’t have the strength to bear this pain,” cried *Ruth, whose two daughters, aged 13 and 15, died in the Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, where she too suffered severe injuries. Ruth sustained a fractured skull, injuries to her shoulder and arm, and, for a while after the blast, she could not hear. Her youngest daughter was with them at one of the three churches targeted by the suicide bombers, but mercifully she suffered only minor injuries. Ruth’s husband, a casual worker paid by the day, is too traumatised to work.

Standing in the gap
Barnabas Fund has covered the cost of Ruth’s medical bills. This can’t take away the family’s grief, nor the pain of Ruth’s injuries, but it at least helps to ease their immediate financial worries. “We are really poor and this has happened to us,” said Ruth. “My beloved two daughters went to be with the Lord and my entire family are mourning this painful death. Thank you for helping us.”

Muslim extremists triumphant about their atrocity
The explosions at churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Day claimed at least 253 lives, of which the majority were Sri Lankan Christians. According to the triumphant statement issued by the Islamic State militant group, which claimed responsibility for the atrocity, Christians were the main intended target, with a secondary interest in “nationals of the coalition”. 

Suffering is almost expected
For a large number of the bereaved and injured, suffering is not new. Many endured severe anguish and torment during the civil war that ended ten years ago. Those on the east coast experienced a terrible tsunami 14 years ago, which flattened buildings, destroyed livelihoods, and killed many. Then there are persecuted converts, like young mother *Kamala, who suffered domestic violence from Hindu relatives and terrorist violence from Islamist bombers.

Young convert mother suffers many times over
Kamala sustained terrible injuries in the bombing at Zion Evangelical Church in the city of Batticaloa. She had secretly gone to the Easter service, dropping her baby off with members of her extended family before continuing to church. She was forbidden by her husband from attending church and had already suffered violence in the home because of her decision to follow Christ. But on Easter morning, she could not resist going along to worship. Her grievous wounds have not softened her husband’s heart. On the contrary, he says she must not return home and he has limited the time when she can see her child. 

“I saw blood and heard my daughter screaming”
*Sara was with all her family in church on Easter morning when she heard a big noise. She remembers seeing blood on her husband’s head, the sound of her daughter screaming and crying, and seeing her mother lying wounded. “I could not get up, I saw many people screaming and with blood on their bodies,” she said.

Sara and her husband still have fragments from the terrorist bomb embedded in their bodies. She can’t raise her head properly because of her injuries, and her husband needs to use crutches. Sara continued, “My husband is a factory worker. He cannot go to work because he is unable to walk.” The family is grateful to Barnabas for supporting them during their recovery. “I really appreciate having this money, it’s really helpful for us,” she said. 

Ethan’s children will have to grow up without the love of their mother
*Ethan lost his wife in the deadly attacks. On the day the bomb went off at his church he received a call from his aunt telling him the awful news. He searched desperately for his wife and children for nearly six hours before, finally, he was confronted with the grim task of identifying a body. He was able to identify his wife’s remains only from a prior injury to her toes. Ethan struggles in his traumatised state to even explain what he needs, as he comes to terms with his abruptly changed reality.

We will continue to help victims in their long journey to recovery
With our supporters’ help, we have paid the funeral costs of the 30 adults and children killed at Zion Evangelical Church. We are also assisting with injured survivors’ medical costs – now and in the future – especially for those who have been permanently disabled. Needs range from hospital bedsheets (which patients must provide themselves) to prosthetics for those who lost limbs in the explosions. Families who lost their breadwinner also need special support.

*Names changed for security purposes

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Date published: 21/07/2019
Written by: Barnabas Fund
Article source: JOY! Magazine


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