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[COMMENT: an email (slightly revised) sent the day
after the inauguration to my family, which has a substantial Obama contingent.
We in America are a long way from the
conditions in Sri Lanka, but I send this below with a deep, deep sadness
because we are heading in a similar direction as we keep trashing our
constitution. We have lost (several decades ago, I would say in 1962)
that primary protection we Americans have had against tyranny.
Whether we can get it back again depends mostly, I think, on the
resurrection of a now largely irrelevant Christian community. What I have
been giving you has been nothing but standard Biblical Christian stuff --
which no longer has much following anywhere in the West, hardly even in the
I wish I could rejoice with many of you
at Obama's apparent success. I cannot. I pray for his true success, that
he will invite Jesus into his heart. My trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ
who rules over, and is the savior for, all things, all peoples, all
governments. No exceptions. I believe that Obama is running in an opposite
direction, and seems to be perceived by many as a new messiah. I believe
that he is a tool of the globalists -- who have no love of human freedom
whatsoever -- except as it can be played out in their own interests.
We are fools to think that anything an increasingly hostile-to-Christianity
secular civil government can do will solve the deep moral and political
issues which plague the world. Only God can do that, and only as
we submit our personal and our public lives to Him.
Outside of the Gospels, I have never
read anything like the piece below. It has nothing directly to do with
America, it is about Sri Lanka. If it has a connection, it is that I am
running into more and more people here in America who, like Jesus and the
early (and many later) Christians, and the Sri Lankan below, are committed
to the truth at any cost to themselves. That will be our salvation.
The truth at any cost seems to me to be
a project that any honest persons can (indeed, must) join, regardless of
what the truth turns out in the end to be. I hope that all of us will make
truth-seeking our primary goal.... When truth wins, everyone wins.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 8:33 AM
Subject: Fwd: A man's last words
I am forwarding this letter from a missionary friend of mine so that
you and the others on the list will be blessed by the courage and faith of this
dear brother from Sri Lanka. I believe that he may well serve as a roll model
for all of us in the near future.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Mark & Shelley Hollis - Sri Lanka' >
Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 7:10 PM
Subject: A man's last words
received this from a friend only days ago. The words that follow are
potent...a persons last moments usually are. This speaks powerfully of
clashing of Kingdoms...of light and darkness and the battle the rages.
Please pray for Sri Lanka at this critical hour especially for the
Christian church at this Mount Carmel moment [family
-- read I Kings 18:17-40 about Elijah on Mount Carmel - about truth at any
cost to self - Earle]. Yes, it's a time of decision...of
weighing the consequences of darkness or of choosing the light. As a nation
teeters in the balance...the church will be found establishing justice and
mercy through profound and intense intercession. Lord, let your church stand
Shelley and the Sri Lanka National Prayer Committee
Tuesday, January 13, 2009 11:27 AM
Last words of a journalist ... about
Lasantha Wickrematunga, the Editor of Sunday Leader
(Sri Lanka) was assassinated last week. Though I knew his family in Canada
well, I barely knew him. I met him a couple of times - once at his home and
at a few social occasions. I knew he was a Christian because his
Brother-in-law Lucky Navaratne and sister Ruki accepted the Lord ( I was
blessed to be a part of their salvation process) and the whole family on
Ruki's side came to know the Lord Jesus.
Following is his last writing
just before his death (it was published after he died).
IT IS A MUST
READ. A man writing about his murder ... before he is murdered.
Speaks After Death via Editorial of Jan 11th 2009
No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives
for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the
course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come
under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt,
bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed,
threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those
categories and now especially the last.
I have been in the business
of journalism a good long time. Indeed, 2009 will be The Sunday Leader's
15th year. Many things have changed in Sri Lanka during that time, and it
does not need me to tell you that the greater part of that change has been
for the worse. We find ourselves in the midst of a civil war ruthlessly
prosecuted by protagonists whose bloodlust knows no bounds. Terror, whether
perpetrated by terrorists or the state, has become the order of the day.
Indeed, murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to
control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will
be the judges. For neither group have the risks ever been higher or the
Why then do we do it? I often wonder that. After all, I
too am a husband, and the father of three wonderful children. I too have
responsibilities and obligations that transcend my profession, be it the law
or journalism. Is it worth the risk? Many people tell me it is not. Friends
tell me to revert to the bar, and goodness knows it offers a better and
safer livelihood. Others, including political leaders on both sides, have at
various times sought to induce me to take to politics, going so far as to
offer me ministries of my choice. Diplomats, recognising the risk
journalists face in Sri Lanka, have offered me safe passage and the right of
residence in their countries. Whatever else I may have been stuck for, I
have not been stuck for choice.
But there is a calling that is yet
above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.
The Sunday Leader has been a controversial newspaper because we say it like
we see it: whether it be a spade, a thief or a murderer, we call it by that
name. We do not hide behind euphemism. The investigative articles we print
are supported by documentary evidence thanks to the public-spiritedness of
citizens who at great risk to themselves pass on this material to us. We
have exposed scandal after scandal, and never once in these 15 years has
anyone proved us wrong or successfully prosecuted us.
The free media
serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and
styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its
management by the people you elected to give your children a better future.
Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one. But while
you may grumble in the privacy of your armchair, the journalists who hold
the mirror up to you do so publicly and at great risk to themselves. That is
our calling, and we do not shirk it.
Every newspaper has its angle,
and we do not hide the fact that we have ours. Our commitment is to see Sri
Lanka as a transparent, secular, liberal democracy. Think about those words,
for they each has profound meaning.
Transparent because government must
be openly accountable to the people and never abuse their trust. Secular
because in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society such as ours,
secularism offers the only common ground by which we might all be united.
Liberal because we recognise that all human beings are created different,
and we need to accept others for what they are and not what we would like
them to be. And democratic... well, if you need me to explain why that is
important, you'd best stop buying this paper.
The Sunday Leader has
never sought safety by unquestioningly articulating the majority view. Let's
face it, that is the way to sell newspapers. On the contrary, as our opinion
pieces over the years amply demonstrate, we often voice ideas that many
people find distasteful. For example, we have consistently espoused the view
that while separatist terrorism must be eradicated, it is more important to
address the root causes of terrorism, and urged government to view Sri
Lanka's ethnic strife in the context of history and not through the
telescope of terrorism. We have also agitated against state terrorism in the
so-called war against terror, and made no secret of our horror that Sri
Lanka is the only country in the world routinely to bomb its own citizens.
For these views we have been labelled traitors, and if this be treachery, we
wear that label proudly.
Many people suspect that The Sunday Leader
has a political agenda: it does not. If we appear more critical of the
government than of the opposition it is only because we believe that - pray
excuse cricketing argot - there is no point in bowling to the fielding side.
Remember that for the few years of our existence in which the UNP was in
office, we proved to be the biggest thorn in its flesh, exposing excess and
corruption wherever it occurred. Indeed, the steady stream of embarrassing
expos‚s we published may well have served to precipitate the downfall of
Neither should our distaste for the war be
interpreted to mean that we support the Tigers. The LTTE are among the most
ruthless and bloodthirsty organisations ever to have infested the planet.
There is no gainsaying that it must be eradicated. But to do so by violating
the rights of Tamil citizens, bombing and shooting them mercilessly, is not
only wrong but shames the Sinhalese, whose claim to be custodians of the
dhamma is forever called into question by this savagery, much of which is
unknown to the public because of censorship.
What is more, a military
occupation of the country's north and east will require the Tamil people of
those regions to live eternally as second-class citizens, deprived of all
self respect. Do not imagine that you can placate them by showering
"development" and "reconstruction" on them in the post-war era. The wounds
of war will scar them forever, and you will also have an even more bitter
and hateful Diaspora to contend with. A problem amenable to a political
solution will thus become a festering wound that will yield strife for all
eternity. If I seem angry and frustrated, it is only because most of my
countrymen - and all of the government - cannot see this writing so plainly
on the wall.
It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally
assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire.
Despite the government's sanctimonious assurances, there was never a serious
police inquiry into the perpetrators of these attacks, and the attackers
were never apprehended. In all these cases, I have reason to believe the
attacks were inspired by the government. When finally I am killed, it will
be the government that kills me.
The irony in this is that, unknown
to most of the public, Mahinda and I have been friends for more than a
quarter century. Indeed, I suspect that I am one of the few people remaining
who routinely addresses him by his first name and uses the familiar Sinhala
address oya when talking to him. Although I do not attend the meetings he
periodically holds for newspaper editors, hardly a month passes when we do
not meet, privately or with a few close friends present, late at night at
President's House. There we swap yarns, discuss politics and joke about the
good old days. A few remarks to him would therefore be in order here.
Mahinda, when you finally fought your way to the SLFP presidential
nomination in 2005, nowhere were you welcomed more warmly than in this
column. Indeed, we broke with a decade of tradition by referring to you
throughout by your first name. So well known were your commitments to human
rights and liberal values that we ushered you in like a breath of fresh air.
Then, through an act of folly, you got yourself involved in the Helping
Hambantota scandal. It was after a lot of soul-searching that we broke the
story, at the same time urging you to return the money. By the time you did
so several weeks later, a great blow had been struck to your reputation. It
is one you are still trying to live down.
You have told me yourself
that you were not greedy for the presidency. You did not have to hanker
after it: it fell into your lap. You have told me that your sons are your
greatest joy, and that you love spending time with them, leaving your
brothers to operate the machinery of state. Now, it is clear to all who will
see that that machinery has operated so well that my sons and daughter do
not themselves have a father.
In the wake of my death I know you will
make all the usual sanctimonious noises and call upon the police to hold a
swift and thorough inquiry. But like all the inquiries you have ordered in
the past, nothing will come of this one, too. For truth be told, we both
know who will be behind my death, but dare not call his name. Not just my
life, but yours too, depends on it.
Sadly, for all the dreams you had
for our country in your younger days, in just three years you have reduced
it to rubble. In the name of patriotism you have trampled on human rights,
nurtured unbridled corruption and squandered public money like no other
President before you. Indeed, your conduct has been like a small child
suddenly let loose in a toyshop. That analogy is perhaps inapt because no
child could have caused so much blood to be spilled on this land as you
have, or trampled on the rights of its citizens as you do. Although you are
now so drunk with power that you cannot see it, you will come to regret your
sons having so rich an inheritance of blood. It can only bring tragedy. As
for me, it is with a clear conscience that I go to meet my Maker. I wish,
when your time finally comes, you could do the same. I wish.
me, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I walked tall and bowed to no
man. And I have not travelled this journey alone. Fellow journalists in
other branches of the media walked with me: most of them are now dead,
imprisoned without trial or exiled in far-off lands. Others walk in the
shadow of death that your Presidency has cast on the freedoms for which you
once fought so hard. You will never be allowed to forget that my death took
place under your watch. As anguished as I know you will be, I also know that
you will have no choice but to protect my killers: you will see to it that
the guilty one is never convicted. You have no choice. I feel sorry for you,
and Shiranthi will have a long time to spend on her knees when next she goes
for Confession for it is not just her owns sins which she must confess, but
those of her extended family that keeps you in office.
As for the
readers of The Sunday Leader, what can I say but Thank You for supporting
our mission. We have espoused unpopular causes, stood up for those too
feeble to stand up for themselves, locked horns with the high and mighty so
swollen with power that they have forgotten their roots, exposed corruption
and the waste of your hard-earned tax rupees, and made sure that whatever
the propaganda of the day, you were allowed to hear a contrary view. For
this I - and my family - have now paid the price that I have long known I
will one day have to pay. I am - and have always been - ready for that. I
have done nothing to prevent this outcome: no security, no precautions. I
want my murderer to know that I am not a coward like he is, hiding behind
human shields while condemning thousands of innocents to death. What am I
among so many? It has long been written that my life would be taken, and by
whom. All that remains to be written is when.
That The Sunday Leader
will continue fighting the good fight, too, is written. For I did not fight
this fight alone. Many more of us have to be - and will be - killed before
The Leader is laid to rest. I hope my assassination will be seen not as a
defeat of freedom but an inspiration for those who survive to step up their
efforts. Indeed, I hope that it will help galvanise forces that will usher
in a new era of human liberty in our beloved motherland. I also hope it will
open the eyes of your President to the fact that however many are
slaughtered in the name of patriotism, the human spirit will endure and
flourish. Not all the Rajapakses combined can kill that.
ask me why I take such risks and tell me it is a matter of time before I am
bumped off. Of course I know that: it is inevitable. But if we do not speak
out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether
they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted. An example
that has inspired me throughout my career in journalism has been that of the
German theologian, Martin Niem"ller. In his youth he was an anti-Semite and
an admirer of Hitler. As Nazism took hold in Germany, however, he saw Nazism
for what it was: it was not just the Jews Hitler sought to extirpate, it was
just about anyone with an alternate point of view. Niem"ller spoke out, and
for his trouble was incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau
concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, and very nearly executed. While
incarcerated, Niem"ller wrote a poem that, from the first time I read it in
my teenage years, stuck hauntingly in my mind:
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
If you remember
nothing else, remember this: The Leader is there for you, be you Sinhalese,
Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled. Its staff will
fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become
accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted. Let there be no doubt
that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own
glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their
sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.
Sent by Mary H. Bell
Girls Ministries Coordinator
409 W. 2nd St.
Fort Scott, KS 66701
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Date Posted - 01/21/2008 - Date
Last Edited -