As Delbert Pearman, the president of the Adventist presence in Sri Lanka, jogged along his usual route early on Sunday, April 21, 2019, he approached the field where he usually played soccer when he is in the capital city of Colombo. He was supposed to be in committee meetings at the Sri Lanka Mission (SLM) office that morning, but the meetings had been unexpectedly postponed. He decided to use the time for exercise.
For reasons he couldn’t explain, Pearman felt tired and decided not to play soccer that morning. Instead, he decided to go home. “I went running at 8:00 a.m. Normally I stop to play soccer with the guys at Galle Face [urban park] but chose not to that day,” he said.
Pearman continued on his route past the St. Anthony’s Shrine, a Roman Catholic church that is a designated national shrine. He arrived home and settled into what he thought would be a quiet Sunday.
Within moments, that quiet was shattered by seven suicide bomb blasts that went off almost simultaneously around the country shortly after 8:45 a.m. More than 320 people died, and more than 500 were injured.
Three churches and four hotels were targeted, along with an additional bomb later detonated during a police raid of the reported suspects’ lodging.
Pearman passed three of the bombed sites along his route that Sunday morning. The Shangri-La Hotel is located in the park where he would have been during the blast had he played football. Pearman passed St. Anthony’s Shrine mere minutes before the blast went off that devastated it.