Sri Lanka, South Asia
Political Leader: President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Religions: Buddhism 71.9%, Hinduism 12%, Islam 8%, Christianity 7.6%, Other 0.5%
Persecution Ranking: No. 30
Number of Terrorist Groups: 4
Acts of Terrorism: 314; Casualties: 806
Percent of Corruption: 69%
% of People in Poverty: 22%
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island nation in South Asia, located about 18½ miles off the southern coast of India. Popularly referred to as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. The island of Sri Lanka lies in the Indian Ocean, to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. It is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait.
The 2002 cease-fire between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a terrorist organization, continued to erode amidst numerous violations and escalating military engagement between the LTTE and government security forces. The Sri Lankan Army remained deployed across the country to fight the insurgency. Many LTTE innovations such using female suicide bombers and waterborne suicide attacks against ships have been copied by other terrorist groups. Sri Lankan cooperation with the FBI has resulted in arrests of persons charged with material support to terrorist groups. The Sri Lankan government cooperated with U.S. efforts to track terrorist financing, although no assets were identified. The United States also provided anti-terrorist training for relevant Sri Lankan government agencies and the banking sector.
Due to its location in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and South East Asia, and has been a center of Buddhist religion and culture from ancient times. Today, the country is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation, with a quarter of the population following faiths other than Buddhism, notably Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.
Challenges for Christians:
The majority of Sri Lankans follow Buddhism, the state religion. There is a growing resentment towards Christianity―, which is seen as a colonial religion. Sri Lanka is ranked No. 30 among nations that are the worst persecutors of Christians based on Open Doors 2007 “World Watch List.” Christians have encountered harassment and physical attacks on property and places of worship by some local Buddhists, who believed they were threatened by these groups and were opposed to conversion. Some Christian groups occasionally also have complained that the government tacitly condoned harassment and violence aimed at them. In some cases police response was inadequate, and local police officials reportedly were reluctant to take legal action against individuals involved in the attacks. The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka has stated that in 2005 there were 39 attacks on Christian churches, organizations and religious leaders.
- Pray for the defeat of the terrorist organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
- For two decades, children have been kidnapped or recruited into the Tamil militia. These child soldiers suffer both mentally and physically as a result. Pray for God to end this travesty. Pray for the healing of these children. Pray for all the children and adults coping with the trauma of the experience of war.
- The northern area of Sri Lanka was hit by the full force of the 2005 Tsunami, killing 31,000 and destroying coastal villages. Pray for restoration of the people there as well as their land.
- Thank God for the commitment of many missionaries over the years, which has seen the churches in Sri Lanka multiply. In the 1970s only 26 new churches were planted, but by the ‘90s this number had grown to over 330.
- Most of the Christians live in the urban areas of the island, yet there are 35,000 villages that have no contact with any Christians. Pray that Sri Lankan Christians would develop a vision to see the gospel spread all over their nation, especially into the poorer rural areas and urban slums.
- Buddhism is religion based on non-violence and tolerance, so the violence of Buddhist extremists against Tamil Hindus and Christians has shattered the illusion. Pray that in this uncertainty people would begin to look for Jesus.
- Pray for church leaders—that God will give them wisdom in responding to the current wave of persecution. (Daniel 2:14)
Source: The World Factbook