BATTICALOA – Sunday morning, April 21, 2019. Ramesh Raju, his wife, and two children arose from their night’s rest in anticipation of the special services at church that morning. It is something they did every Sunday. But this Sunday was different. It was Easter. They would be remembering Jesus giving His life to save many and His bodily resurrection conquering death and the grave.
Love always means sacrificing self for others. Jesus is the ultimate and perfect example of love, coming into an unfriendly world to save us from the death that is the sentence for our sins. (Romans 6:23)
Ramesh and his family live in Sri Lanka. They had awakened on Easter Sunday before most people in America had begun their Saturday night sleep. Ramesh and his family were already focused on Easter services. His wife, Chrishanthini, taught a Sunday School class before the morning worship.
Even as they prepared to enter the sanctuary, little did they know that Ramesh was literally moments from sacrificing his own life to save his brothers and sisters in Christ.
Ramesh spotted a stranger just outside the church. The young man was carrying a large backpack. His presence aroused Ramesh’s concern, so he approached him, inquiring why he was there.
The young man claimed that he had a video camera in the backpack and had come to film the worship service. Chrishanthini told reporters, “It was not a convincing explanation. (Ramesh) informed him he’d need to get permission first.” She and her children entered the church while Ramesh continued speaking with the boy with the backpack.
Moments later, the church was rocked by an explosion just outside where Ramesh and the boy had been.
The young man was one of several suicide bombers whose heinous acts claimed the lives of more than 300 worshippers and visitors in three cities across Sri Lanka that morning.
Ramesh died in the blast but he kept the suicide bomber from achieving his goal. He gave his life to protect the others inside the church. Had he not done so, the numbers of deaths across the country that morning may well have exceeded 500.
By this selfless act of one man, many were saved. His family and friends sorrow over his death but they also realize that they have life because he died. In the midst of the tragedy that rocked the nation, Ramesh willingly gave his life so that others might live.
What a beautiful picture of what Jesus did to rescue us and offer us eternal life. For Ramesh it was all a part of denying himself, taking up his cross, and following Jesus whatever the cost.
Pray for comfort, direction, and encouragement for Chrishanthini and her children Rushika and Niruban as they face the days ahead without their beloved husband and father. Chrishanthini testified to reporters, “I love my Jesus, I love my Jesus.”
Although none of the churches attacked were those supported directly by Gospel for Asia, five family members of a GFA-supported Bridge of Hope social worker died in two of the other Easter morning church bombings.
GFA founder, K.P. Yohannan has asked believers to
“Pray that God will give (the bereaved) strength during this difficult time . . . and protection upon all families and communities in Sri Lanka as insecurity and uncertainty continues.”
To read more news on Sri Lanka on Missions Box, go here.
- Faithwire, Heroic Sri Lanka Church Member Gives His Life to Stop Bomber from Entering Sanctuary
- The Guardian, Sri Lanka: tributes paid to worshipper who confronted bomber
- BBC News, Sri Lanka: The worshipper who blocked a bomber
- Church Leaders, Heroic Worshiper Saved Lives by Confronting Suicide Bomber
- Legit, Meet the Sri Lankan worshipper who blocked a bomber from killing more people
- Kanatonian [CC BY-SA 4.0]