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Notre Dame, Sri Lanka, and the Christian faith: Making light shine in dark places

Photo: Unsplash/zae zhu
Photo: Unsplash/zae zhu | Photo: Unsplash/zae zhu

Easter week 2019 had more than the usual tragedies for Christians.

I woke on Easter morning to news that bomb blasts had rocked multiple churches and hotels in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, the island nation off India’s coast. Men, women, and children were mercilessly killed inside churches even as they celebrated Christ’s resurrection in special worship.

By Monday evening where I live, in south India, it was confirmed that 290 people had been killed and more than 500 injured, making these among the largest coordinated terror attacks on churches in the 21st century. Meanwhile, terror attacks continued against churches in Nigeria and Egypt.

The Easter attack in Sri Lanka came less than a week after the tragic fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France, devastating one of the finest masterpieces of French gothic architecture. The cathedral, constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries, was one of the world’s most magnificent works of art. More importantly, it was a place of worship and a standing testimony of the Christian faith.

The collapse of places of worship and the murder of faithful Christians should inspire us to understand the times and quicken our spirits to share the gospel in a more intentional way.

The impetus for a Christian to share the gospel comes from the commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself before His ascension, recorded in Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

By sharing the gospel and making disciples, we become conduits of God’s light in dark places. By our intentional efforts to tell our neighbors—friends and enemies alike—the good news, we can be tools God uses to transform people who now attack our churches into peace-loving followers of Christ.

We cannot solve terror attacks merely by beefing up security and having tough laws. True transformation in the darkest corners of our world can happen only when the light of the gospel shines in them. And the onus of sharing the gospel rests on us who call ourselves Christians.

The call here is not to travel to those darkest corners, although you might do that, but to share the gospel right now, where God has strategically placed you.

If the terror in this world and the loss of souls caused an iota of grief in us, then our two most important and immediate responses as Christians should be to pray for those affected and to share the gospel with as many as possible.

If our fellow Christians are ready to risk their lives for their faith, we should do our part by at least sharing the light of the gospel with a darkened world.

May the Lord protect His people in the coming days, and May He give us wisdom, grace, and boldness to present Christ Jesus lovingly to a broken world.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), lives in Bengaluru, India, and is a contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, a ministry dedicated to Biblical earth stewardship, economic development for the poor, and the proclamation and defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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