Winds of change in Sri Lanka?

By April 22, 2015
(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

(Photo courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Sri Lanka (MNN) — Hardship and civil war have oppressed Sri Lanka for 25 years. Even when war ended in 2009, many were fighting battles of their own, particularly for freedom of religion. But those dark days seem to be waning, opening doors to sharing the truth, and Christian Aid Mission wants to take full advantage of that change.

Lacking Freedom of Religion
Sri Lanka is declared a secular state, but the majority of the population is Buddhist. Open Doors UK reported that according to constitution, religious minorities have freedom of religion; however, the government has enforced laws where groups must receive letters of registration issued by the Ministry of Buddhist Sasana and Religious Affairs to worship.

At #44 on the Open Doors World Watch List, the South Central Asian country stands as a symbol for Christian persecution.

Voice of the Martyrs reported that Christians have been discriminated against in employment and education situations. According to Open Doors UK, at least 60 violent incidents of persecution took place in 2014–many of which were led by Buddhist monks and radicals supported by the government.

Peace on the Rise
According to the International Mission Board, President Maithripala Sirisena was elected in an unexpected upset. And while many were braced for violence, peace was a welcome surprise.

The new president is taking a step back to deal with the country’s past, including persecution and discrimination against the Tamil people–many of whom who were in refugee or internment camps after the civil war. President Sirisena has promised to give the people freedom to move and is giving back most of the land the government obtained from them.

IMB reports, “Many remarked that in their lifetime, they have never seen this kind of peace in Sri Lanka.”

Key Timing for the Gospel
It would seem that now is a key time for spreading the Gospel further, but the overall population of Sri Lankan Christians is remarkably small. According to Joshua Project, 1.2% of Sri Lanka is Christian.

With your help, an ministry supported by Christian Aid hopes to send three more indigenous Christian workers to reach new areas that have yet to hear about Christ. Help sponsor these workers, by clicking here, and scrolling down to April 20.

4 Comments

  • Athula says:

    Dear Sir

    When you try to convert people that will create lot of friction and disharmony. I believe gospel would spread by itself if you live according to the gospel. Many people in India dont care about one’s religion. But they dont want Hindus to be converted to christianity. This is my thought.

  • Ranil says:

    It was in the old days there was a need for people to walk into houses and teach about a religion. Now this practice is frown upon even in ‘developing’ countries! In Sri Lanka, which has majority Buddhist who are not supposed to harm even an ant per Buddhist philosophy, monetary bribes are used by many western religion institutes to convert the poor into Biblical religions including Christianity. This is seen as the continuation of the colonial practice of converting ‘uneducated’ people in Western colonies in Africa, South America and Asia. This is the key reason the missionaries experience the level of hostility in Sri Lanka as observed in this article.

    Buddhist philosophy is an advanced rational sets of ideas and practices. In the modern days, even the most ignorant Buddhists could be bought out in the past are becoming more informed about this ‘religion’ they are born into. Therefore, offering money or other assets to buy out Buddhist in Sri Lanka will most likely to get negative reactions. It is best to use social media if you want to spread the message out to those who have not heard it. Believe me, while growing up in Sri Lanka I heard too much about Bible and Christ.

    As Athula correctly pointed out, “I believe gospel would spread by itself if you live according to the gospel”.

  • Gerardo Rivera says:

    I have to disagree, Athula, as I don’t think you quite understand what is meant to “live according to the gospel.” If one is to live according to the gospel, then telling people about Jesus Christ, our savior who has died absorbing the penalty of our sins so that we may be justified before a perfect God who promises to pay back all of the wages of sin, is part of living out the gospel.

    Overall, living out the gospel can create disharmony and friction, as there are evil spiritual strongholds that want people blind to their sin, the sins that a Holy God must judge, not because he does not love them, but because he is a 100% just God. To look the other way without judging it would mean that he is unjust, which the Bible repeatedly mentions that God is just and will repay all of the iniquities of man with his judgment. That’s where Jesus comes in. For those who believe upon Jesus, he took the full judgment that God demands, so that we do not have to! That’s why the gospel literally translates into the “Good News” and the Father would rather judge his son if it would spare us the penalty of our sins, which is to be forever separated from a loving God!

    Lastly, if the Father in Heaven was concerned about bringing friction and disharmony…he wouldn’t have sent his only begotten Son. Jesus created a lot of disharmony and friction when he called what was going on at the temple what it is: thievery and scamming disguised as formal worship. He created a lot of disharmony and friction when he called those who put on a pleasing face in the temple and show no compassion outside of it hypocrites. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but he is also the rock of offense and has stated that he has not come to bring peace, but a sword. Not a sword that is to smite those who disbelieve with holy anger, but a sword that is given to the Muslim father who finds his first-born son worshipping Jesus and wants him dead for blaspheming Islam. A sword that is given into the hands of a mob of Hindus and Buddhists who would beat and oppress those who put their trust in Jesus. For those who follow Jesus in persecuted countries, they know that sword all too well.

    The followers of Christ are not here to forcefully convert people (God could do that, but He chooses not to; he wants a heart freely given to him, not a heart begrudgingly forced to serve Him). We are here to share Jesus, but we are well aware for those who start believing (for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God) and “convert”, this can create disharmony and friction.

    I leave it with a paraphrase of a quote I heard once: “We are to be the salt of the earth. Salt purifies and prevents corruption. Salt also irritates! So if we are not irritating someone with our Christian witness of Jesus, then perhaps we may have lost our saltiness. And Jesus already warns us what happens with salt that has no flavor!”

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