Sri Lanka (MNN) — While both sides claim to be observing a
cease-fire, the signs of a deepening conflict in Sri Lanka are everywhere. Soldiers in full battle-gear patrol Colombo. The capital is increasingly
fortified. Sandbagged bunkers and trenches are appearing all over the rebel-held
north. According to reports, the truce has completely collapsed.
War planes are
constantly over rebel-held areas. Many fear it's a preview of a conflict in Sri
Lanka that could see thousands die.
Back to the Bible' s
Country Director James Kanaganayagam says many people have already felt the
effects of war. "This has just compounded the already huge number of
refugees which is now over 200,000 in the eastern province alone. The problem
with the refugees is that there isn't enough infrastructure set for these people to be
accommodated. So there's a huge issue there for humanitarian assistance."
This conflict is
also causing problems for Back to the Bible and other ministries in Sri Lanka
because it pits the Sinhalese Sri Lankan government against the Tamil Tiger
rebels. Kanaganayagam says, "It's primarily an ethnic issue. There is an
increasing number of arrests being made, and all of the people arrested are
Tamils because they're more likely to be connected with Tamil Tigers. So there's that sense of tension for the Tamil-speaking people."
While these tensions
are increasing, it hasn't stopped ministry. "We have the
correspondence courses that are continuing to minister to people and draw
people. It's not an overt evangelistic tool. But it continues to grow because
people are looking for answers to their questions."
More than 70,000
people have gone through the program over the years.
In addition to correspondence course, Back to the Bible is also reaching out through their radio broadcasts in these difficult times, says Kanaganayagam.
"We have daily programs on national stations that actually cover the
entire country, and these programs have the potential of reaching millions of
people in Sinhalese and Tamil. People have come to know the Lord through that
funding is an important need, Kanaganayagam also is asking believers around the
world to pray for the morale of his staff. He says his team is battling a bit of discouragement.