By LEAH MARIEANN KLETT
The pastor of one of the churches bombed by Muslim extremists in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday has extended forgiveness those who carried out those horrific attacks.
In a Facebook video Friday from London, Roshan Mahesan, senior pastor of Zion Church in Batticaloa, said 28 people from his congregation were killed by the suicide bombing at his church and another 70-some are still hospitalized.
“Still, we are hurt. We are angry,” Mahesan said.
“As the senior pastor of Zion Church Batticaloa, the whole congregation and every family affected, we say to the suicide bomber and also to the group that sent the suicide bomber that we love you and we forgive you.”
Mahesan said in his video that no matter what the extremists did to the church, he and the Zion Church congregants will love those responsible for the killings because they “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Jesus Christ on the cross, He said, ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing,'” Mahesan said. “We also, who follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we say for the Lord to forgive these people.”
Mahesan explained that as a group of believers, they see all people “as people.”
“When Jesus looks at you as a person, He doesn’t look at your religion. He doesn’t look at your culture. He doesn’t look at anything,” Mahesan said. “For Him, you are His child. We are all lost. Jesus came in this world to seek and find the Lord.”
Mahesan, who was visiting a church in Norway at the time of the attacks, vowed that the ministry will continue the “call and mission the Lord has given us.”
“People in this world are lost. We take the Gospel and we show Christ,” he said. “We show people who are sitting in the darkness the light of Jesus Christ. Only in Jesus, we have our hope. Only in Jesus, you have all the answers for your life problems.”
Concluding his message, Mahesan thanked every church and believer around the world for their support in the aftermath of the horrific event.
Zion Church is one of the three churches that was attacked by suicide bombers on Easter Sunday. Suicide bombers also attacked hotels where Christians were having Easter breakfast.
Over 100 families were impacted by the bombing at Zion Church, according to the British Pakistani Christian Association, a London-based charity that is active throughout South Asia and is aiding victims at Zion Church.
The Sri Lankan police say that at least two of the suicide bombers involved in the attacks, which killed at least 250 people, were from Kattankudy, a town known for Wahhabism – a hard-line strain of Islam blamed for breeding militancy, according to the New York Times. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to whom the suicide bombers in the Easter attacks apparently pledged their loyalty, claimed the bombings in Sri Lanka were “part of the revenge” that awaits the West.
On Tuesday, the United States ambassador to Sri Lanka said she believes members of the armed group may be planning more assaults.
“We do believe that the terrorist threat is ongoing and there may be active plotters. Active members of the attack group that carried out the terror attacks on Easter Sunday may still be at large,” Ambassador Alaina Teplitz told Reuters news agency in an interview.
“We certainly have reason to believe that the active attack group has not been fully rendered inactive. We do believe that there is active planning under way.”