Dear brothers in Christ,
Greetings from Colombo, Sri Lanka, in the name of our crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ!
I wanted to write to you immediately to reassure you, first, that my family and I are all safely at home in Colombo, and to give you an idea of what it was like for us yesterday.
Early in the morning, at about 6.30am, we left for Kuliyapitiya, which is just over two hours from our house, to attend Easter service with the Sinhalese colloquy students and congregation. During the service we had the joy of the occasion of the baptism of three infants, which is significant, because this congregation previously only practiced infant dedication.
It was during that church service that I learned about the bombings that had been carried out at several churches and hotels in Colombo, Negombo, and elsewhere on the island. Subsequently I preached a sermon, which was translated into Sinhala, on the topics of (1) the truth of Christ’s resurrection, (2) the perfection of the image of infant baptism as a model of God’s grace without our works, and (3) that we rejoice for these newly baptized infants, no matter what hardships, persecutions, or difficulties they may face because of their baptism, because we know that an everlasting inheritance is prepared for all who are in Christ, who through baptism are crucified and risen with him to new life. We rejoice in our sufferings, considering ourselves blessed and honoured to suffer for so great a king as the Lord God. We rejoice in the knowledge that whatever we suffer for the sake of our love for Jesus Christ pales in comparison to what he suffered out of love for us. And further we rejoice, because the sufferings of this life are not worthy of comparison with the glory that awaits us in the kingdom of heaven.
After the service, our kind hosts provided a delicious Sinhalese meal for us, though everyone’s hearts were heavy because of the news of the morning.
We were unsure what to do next–whether to stay at a nearby hotel in Kuliyapitiya, or to return home to Colombo. In the end, we decided it would be best to return home, if possible, and hope that the roads would be open. On the way back, we picked up some supplies to get us through the next couple of days. We saw the military guards at the general hospital, as we passed through Negombo. Then as we were driving, Pastor Devanesan called to tell us to avoid Baseline Road, which was on our way home, because another bombing was being reported in Dematagoda (Colombo), so we drove a different route. Then again, when we were in Colombo, another bomb went off near the zoo, not far from where we live.
Thankfully we made it home safely around 3pm, though we were disturbed by the events of the day, unsure of whether we would continue to hear of more attacks. Still we do not know if it is all over.
When we returned home, Monica tried to give the children some better memories for the day. She had them find some plastic eggs full of jelly beans, which she had hidden around the house. Then the older boys hid eggs for the younger kids. We gave them some chocolate eggs that I had brought back from the USA. We opened our hymnals and sang our first Easter songs in English. Watched a movie together. Said bed-time prayers. Then finally, after tucking them into their beds, as I was closing their bedroom door, I remembered to teach them to say what we had not said all day:
“Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”
Thank you to all of you who have been praying for us, and for the people and country of Sri Lanka. We thank God that we are safe. Pastor Malhburg and his family are also safe, who were traveling in Hatton. No one in the Lutheran Church was harmed either. Yet we are also deeply saddened about the hundreds who have died, the many more injured, their families, and the entire country, which is terribly affected by these dreadful crimes. For the next couple of days we will just be staying at home, as school has been cancelled until Wednesday, and the government has imposed a strict nationwide curfew of 6pm.
Please continue to pray for Sri Lanka, commending us to the care of our loving Father.
Lord, have mercy!
In these last days, may the light of the Gospel of Christ shine into the darkness, and may we be a light to the nations. Amen.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Edward Naumann