BATTICALOA, Sri Lanka — Girija used to read the Bible to her illiterate husband every evening, but following her death in April as the church she attended was attacked by an Islamic suicide bomber, her daughter Dukashini now reads the Scriptures aloud in her mother’s place.
As previously reported, more than 300 people were killed earlier this year when nine assailants set off explosives at three Roman Catholic assemblies in Katuwapitiya and Batticaloa, and an evangelical charismatic congregation in Batticaloa, as well as three luxury hotels.
Girija was present at Zion Church when the bomb exploded. A number of children died in the blast as well.
Caroline Mahendran, one of the Sunday School teachers at Zion Church, said that the children had just been asked during class if they were willing to die for Christ, and minutes later, a dozen of them lost their lives.
“Today was an Easter Sunday School at the church and we asked the children, ‘How many of you [are] willing to die for Christ?’ Everyone raised their hands,” Israeli reporter Hananya Naftali posted to social media in sharing Mehendran’s recollection. “Minutes later, they came down to the main service and the blast happened. Half of the children died on the spot.”
Girija lost her life in the attack as well, leaving her already struggling husband alone to care for their four children.
“For Dukashini, everything changed that day. Her mother was gone, and her father was left to care for her and her three siblings,” Open Doors explained in a post on Monday. “Her father, Prashant, is a Sri Lankan day laborer who works as hard as he can to take care of his four children. But often — especially in the rainy season — there is no one who will hire him for construction work.”
Open Doors recently visited Prashant and Dukashini, and team members are considering the best ways to help the family at this time.
The organization noted that as Prashant is illiterate, Girija used to read him the Bible every night.
“Now, since her mother’s death, Dukashini has taken over that role,” Open Doors outlined. “Every night, she reads God’s Word to her father.”
Dukashini says that she especially likes the Book of Daniel. But when asked to read a bit for Open Doors, she desired to open up to Psalm 23.
“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. … Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”
Listen to Dukashini reading Psalm 23 below.