Sri Lanka (MNN) — Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a loan to Sri Lanka of nearly $3 billion. In theory, the loan will help alleviate Sri Lanka’s ongoing financial crisis – one of the worst in the nation’s history.
The crisis kicked off in 2020 as Sri Lanka’s substantial tourist industry all but shut down. For the last several years, the growing economic tension has exacerbated other problems, including distrust of political leaders and persecution against Christians.
Greg Musselman of Voice of the Martyrs Canada had a discussion with Yamani Ravindran, a lawyer with the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL).
“Just last year alone, we documented just over 70 incidents. Even this year, we have documented over 18 incidents or a little bit more than that,” Ravindran reports. “Persecution of religious minorities in Sri Lanka is a very real thing.”
Most infamously, bombers attacked churches on Easter Sunday of 2019. According to Ravindran, to this day, state investigations have been disappointing: “Two years forward that we have still not seen justice in the situation. That is something that is concerning for us.”
In fact, violence against believers gives officials an excuse to monitor and control churches under the guise of providing security. This can be doubly intimidating for local Christians who now have to contend with the threat of extremist attacks and pressure from state officials.
If the government isn’t currently providing justice, what do Christians have left? The first step, Ravindran says, is remembering that Christ’s followers have unique hope.
“They live in the hope of also meeting their loved ones one day, because they know this is not the end for them,” she says. “They know that they will see them one day.”
Thanks to help from Voice of the Martyrs Canada, NCEASL can provide earthly help, too. They alleve immediate medical concerns, meet intermediary needs, and work to build a more resilient community for the future.
Part of this process involves bracing for persecution. NCEASL teaches believers what rights they have under Sri Lanka’s constitution and helps them understand, on a legal, cultural, and spiritual level, how they can weather outside pressure.
By helping Christians respond to persecution, NCEASL is helping them be more effective witnesses. They’re teaching Christians not only how to resist pressure, but how to love their neighbors and engage with them in culturally and emotionally relevant ways. It all comes back to showcasing God’s love in ways that resonate with others.
Learn more about Voice of the Martyrs Canada and their work in Sri Lanka right here. In the meantime, pray that the financial pressure on Sri Lanka and the threat of violence against local Christians will lift.
Header photo courtesy of Voice of the Martyrs Canada.