Sri Lanka (MNN) — A group of Christians in Sri Lanka is distributing COVID-19 emergency relief – and it’s not their first time responding in a crisis.
Last year, Easter bombings in Sri Lanka killed over 290 people and wounded hundreds more. It was called one of the worst terror attacks in this century. Believers with FARMS Lanka responded with aid for victims and their families; some of these families still continue to get relief from the program today.
In light of the current pandemic, FARMS Lanka is also distributing dry food packets to poor Sri Lankan believers affected by pandemic shutdowns. These food packets include lentils, rice, milk powder, onions, canned fish, biscuits, and more. They have also coordinated supplies of face masks, gloves, and sanitizers at the request of local officials.
FARMS International combines Christian stewardship with interest-free loans to lift families out of poverty. They began the FARMS Lanka program in 1973 and the program eventually became self-sustaining in 2005. Although FARMS Lanka has operated independently for 15 years, FARMS International keeps in touch.
Scott Clifton, Executive Director of FARMS International explains, “We can maintain communication but don’t need to consider them as part of our oversight. So it’s really an encouraging thing that a program can graduate and can continue on long after our involvement. We hope that there’s lots of multiplication that happens in this way.”
As the Sri Lankan government works to contain the coronavirus, they have imposed strict curfews, social distancing regulations, and other hygiene measures.
Clarence Mendis, FARMS Lanka’s General Manager, reported that they are working with Disaster Management Officials, Community Based Organizations, community leaders, and churches to provide emergency relief.
Clifton says, “One of the interesting things with this program is that they were required to be registered with the government back in 1991…and being registered with the government, there are certain requirements that they have to follow. So one of those things is there’s a greater emphasis on relief efforts, but they have a great methodology on moving from those relief efforts to true development and using it as a holistic way to meet needs.”
While FARMS Lanka is primarily assisting Christians, the program also helps their non-Christian neighbors and represents Jesus in their communities.
“They have a developed pathway to move from just giving basic needs to welcoming someone into this spiritually thriving place where they’re transformed.”
Clifton says, “They have a presence in every one of the 25 districts that exist in Sri Lanka, and they even have extended beyond Sri Lanka’s borders. They have these brotherhood programs that extend to Southeast Asia — places like India and Nepal and many other countries around there that they’ve then partnered with in various capacities.”
Every morning, FARMS Lanka staff members gather to read the Bible and pray together before carrying out disaster relief efforts. Would you pray with them?
Ask the Lord to protect the people of Sri Lanka who are struggling financially and spiritually during pandemic shutdowns. Pray for FARMS Lanka to have a profound impact through their tangible example of Jesus’s love. And pray for our Sri Lankan brothers and sisters in Christ to be filled with joy as they serve.
If you would like to support this program financially, Clifton says, “You can give gifts to FARMS and designate them towards Sri Lanka and we’ll pass them on.”
Click here to give to FARMS International and support Sri Lanka disaster relief!
Header photo courtesy of FARMS International.