Rebekah was at her church bookshop when the blast shattered the building. On Easter Sunday in 2019 Sri Lanka was rocked by some of the deadliest attacks on Christian targets in years.
The six initial blasts perpetrated by Islamist suicide bombers occurred in St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Zion Church in Batticaloa, where Rebekah was, and at three luxury hotels. Around 270 people were killed and at least 500 were wounded.
Rebekah survived the attack with badly burnt body and face. She spent many weeks in the intensive care unit and had to undergo multiple surgeries. Alongside her physical pain, Rebekah was hurting emotionally too as in the attack she lost her older sister, brother-in-law and little nephew.
Throughout this calamity, Rebekah was a glimmer of hope for her surviving family during those trying times. Despite her injuries, even unable to move the fingers on her left hand, she helped to take care of her orphaned and badly injured nephew and niece. The little girl, Debbie, had lost her eyesight.
When Open Doors’ local partners visited them after the attack, Rebekah said she did not even have the peace of mind to celebrate occasions such as Christmas and birthdays because the pain of her loss was far too overwhelming. Her injuries left her confined to her house for a long time.
However, Rebekah chose to stay strong for her niece and nephew. Open Doors’ partners were able to visit her family multiple times during the past few years and noticed the gradual change in Rebekah’s mental and emotional state. When asked about the situation, Rebekah said last year, “I know God does everything for our good. I have so much peace in my heart.”
In her heart, she also had love blooming.
Three years after her traumatic experience and just days before Easter 2022, Rebekah tied the knot with a pastor’s son in Jaffna. Surrounded by family members and many guests and wearing a beautiful bridal outfit, Rebekah embarked on a new chapter in her life.
The young woman and Kaushik, now her husband, met last year on social media. Rebekah, who is a very good singer, released a song with a music video and shared it on Facebook. After spotting and watching the video, Kaushik sent her a friend request.
“I don’t normally accept friend requests from people I don’t know, so I was very reluctant to accept it,” Rebekah told Open Doors’ partners recently. “But I ended up accepting it and we started talking.”
Seeing how he was interested in her, Rebekah became interested in Kaushik herself. After dating online for some time, the couple asked their families to meet to discuss the matter, as is the tradition in Sri Lanka.
“When we went to Jaffna to meet his family, they didn’t treat us like strangers. They welcomed us so warmly like we were family,” says Rebekah.
The two families approved of the marriage and a few months later Rebekah and Kaushik exchanged wedding rings.
“My husband is very supportive emotionally. Even with all the pain we’ve been through, he and his family have accepted us with all of that. He is very kind to my niece and nephew, Debbie and Rufus, as well, and they love him too.” This is a source of great joy to Rebekah.
She has now settled into her new home and is enjoying the company of her new family. “Not only my husband, but his whole family loves me very much,” she shared.
“We are overjoyed with the wonderful news of Rebekah’s wedding. Easter comes with a promise of new life and new hope, and Rebekah’s finding love and ‘restarting’ her life is the embodiment of it,” said Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland.
“We hope for a peaceful Easter and that no other Christian will share Rebekah’s ordeal because of their faith.”
Open Doors offers support to, and speaks up for, Christians around the world who are discriminated against, or persecuted for their faith.