The tropical island of Sri Lanka, which lies just off the southeast coast of India, has attracted visitors for centuries with its natural beauty. But it also has been scarred by a long and bitter civil war, arising out of ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamil minority in the northeast.
After more than 25 years of violence, the conflict seemed to end in 2009, when government forces seized the last area controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels. But recriminations over abuses by both sides continue. The violence has claimed more than 70,000 lives, damaged the economy, and harmed tourism in one of South Asia’s potentially most prosperous societies.
International concern was raised about the fate of civilians caught up in the conflict zone as 250,000 Tamil refugees were confined to refugee camps for months after the war ended.
Though the nation itself has experienced such turmoil, the ministry of Every Home for Christ remains steadfast in its work to reach every home with the Gospel. EHC National Director Sam Thevabalasingham reports that despite the political and economic instability creating such hardship for the Sri Lankan people, recently EHC workers have experienced a fruitful time of blessing.
Home-to-home distribution of the Gospel is taking place at a rapid pace in Sri Lanka through Christ Group leaders and members, volunteers from local churches, and volunteer field representatives. Not only are EHC workers going home to home,they are visiting marketplaces regularly as well as reaching police, army, navy and air force personnel in their barracks. According to Sam, these security forces happily receive the materials from EHC volunteers and read them with great enthusiasm.In addition to these outreaches, students are being evangelized on college campuses—but not without great risk. Conducting evangelism at universities requires much care as it is dangerous to undertake this type of ministry in Sri Lanka.
Students who distribute messages preaching the Gospel are looked upon with suspicion due to a volatile political culture that has been slowly developing within the student bodies throughout the nation. EHC is grateful to be able to show these students the hope found in Jesus Christ in order that they may combat these issues.
Hospitals are also being reached with the Gospel; and not just to patients but to visitors as well. Work is being carried out and is very much appreciated by staff and patients alike. EHC workers have not faced harassment by hospital employees; it is quite the contrary as they are very welcoming to those who would come pray for their patients and reach out to them as well.
During the last quarter, EHC field evangelistshave made several visits to Sri Lanka’s 40-plus Christ Groups (small bodies of new believers) and consolidated their work among them by praying, instructing, and encouraging their members. During these times, they use the Be Fruitful and Multiply teaching program to strengthen members of the Christ Groups as well as others who attend the training. Their efforts have paid off as many new members have joined the Christ Groups as a result.
There is also much unity among the Christ Groups in Sri Lanka. It is not uncommon for several Christ Groups in a given region to come together for regular worship services on Sundays. These congregations are rapidly growing by adding new members as miracles of healing are being reported.
According to those on the field, a total of six new churches have been established by the Christ Group members and their families in recent days. Sam says, “It appears that planting churches has become their top priority and it is keeping them very much occupied. They keep visiting their Christ Groups to help disciple and shepherd them!” Throughout all the political turmoil and years of unrest, Sam remains hopeful for the future of his country. “We have faced many challenges both physically and spiritually,” he says, “and for everything we give thanks to Him for His guidance, strength and comfort we experience through the Holy Spirit. We can say just like the apostle Paul says, ‘We can do all things through Him who strengthens us.’”