Sri Lanka (MNN) — Despite an official ceasefire, Sri
Lanka's lengthy internal conflict has intensified. In the last two weeks,
136,000 people fled their homes to seek protection in refugee camps. Among
those displaced were eight Gospel for Asia missionaries and at least 83 of
their church families.
Over the last 15 months, 4,000 people have died in the conflict
between Sri Lanka's government and the insurgent group Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Civilians are being caught in the middle of this
conflict as suicide bombers, mines, and mortars are common forms of indiscriminate attack.
"Having been to this part of the country, my heart
aches for these innocent suffering people," says GFA President K.P.
The escalating situation saw the LTTE for the first time
launch an aerial strike against the government airport on March 26, killing
three airmen and wounding 16 others.
The prospects for a peaceful resolution to this situation
seem unlikely. The BBC quoted Sri Lanka's official government military
spokesman, Brigadier Prasad Samarasing, as saying, "We are left with no option
but to intensify our operations to silence their guns."
In the past six months, the government has cleared out
several Tamil Tiger strongholds in Batticaloa in the east. The fighting has
forced thousands to leave their crops, schooling, and homes to find shelter in
government-run areas. However, there is not enough sanitation, housing, or food
for the displaced, which some estimate to be as many as 160,000.
The Sri Lankan people are still recovering from the massive
tsunami that wiped out huge areas of East Sri Lanka in December 2004. For many
of them, the life they rebuilt was left behind again when they fled.
GFA's Sri Lanka leader, Lal Vanderwall, says the 83 families
and eight pastors who were displaced see this as an opportunity to share the
hope they have in Christ with their fellow refugees. While they face the same
dangers and discomforts as the others, they are trusting the Lord to work
through the nightmarish situation.
"Let us pray for them and the workers serving among
them at this time," Yohannan said. "We will also be praying for the
Lord to protect the lives of all the refugees and that the missionaries and
believers in the group would be able to bring the hope of the Gospel in the
midst of this desperate situation."
Gospel for Asia is a mission organization involved in
evangelism and church planting in Asia's unreached regions. Currently Gospel
for Asia supports more than 16,000 church planters in 10 countries of South
Asia. On average, these missionaries establish approximately 10 fellowships every
day among unreached villages and people groups. Gospel for Asia is also
committed to training native missionaries. The organization's 54 Bible colleges
are preparing nearly 9,000 students to become full-time church planters.