Sri Lanka (MNN) — For the first time since the 26-year civil war ended in Sri Lanka, Christians are receiving the training they need to lead their churches.
President and founder of Global Action Lars Dunberg says they just celebrated the graduation of 157 students in their pastoral training program. The new pastors will have an impact on Sri Lanka, just like the 450 previous students have had. "Those 450 students have now founded 460 churches, and those 460 churches minister to about 65,000 people every week."
While this is great news, it's just the tip of the iceberg, says Dunberg. "There are 32,000 villages in Sri Lanka. Our goal, down the road, is to train at least one pastor in each one of those villages."
These pastoral students aren't your typical pastors. These are men who came to Christ with no Christian background whatsoever. "And they began sharing with people what had happened to them. Suddenly, 50 people every week started listening to them. And 'Voila!' They are the pastor. But they know zilch. And so we take these pastors and we train them in the basics."
Global Action teaches the pastors Bible, doctrine, church history, how to run a church, what a church is, leadership, and evangelism. "They get a little diploma and a library of 12 books because they have nothing," says Dunberg.
He says these men receive training three days a month for 10 months before graduating.
This recent training was a first for one reason, says Dunbers. "This is the first time that we have taken this training into the areas of the civil war. We've had about 40 students in each one of these training centers. And we've been able to kind of infiltrate an area where we haven't been able to do anything because of the civil war."
Christians are urged to pray for these men because it's not easy to work in Sri Lanka. "A lot of churches are burned, [and] a lot of pastors are beaten up," says Dunberg. "That's just part of what's happening. There is a lot of persecution."
Help is needed to train even more pastors. "To train one of these pastors for a year–including the books–costs about $940. That includes everything: lecturing, training materials, and the libraries. Compare that to $80,000 it takes to train a pastor in North America today."