Two Becoming One in Sri Lanka
An island nation blighted by thirty years of civil war and terrorist activity, Sri Lanka is a country with two ethnic peoples. There are the Tamil people who are Hindu and the Singhala people who are Buddhist. Religion and ethnicity stick together. Singhala-Hindu and Tamil-Buddhist are not combinations that happen very readily.
But guess what?! There are both Tamil Christians and Singhala Christians in Sri Lanka. In fact 21 of the former and 20 of the latter were present together at the first Level One training week in February. And they came from 13 different church groups and organisations. Anglican and Baptist and Apostolic and Reformed and Methodist – as well as Youth for Christ, Back to the Bible, and IFES-affiliate, FOCUS. There is a unity to be found in the gospel – and in the preaching of the gospel. Country Coordinator, Lokendra (“Lokki”) Abhayaratne, was thrilled to be present: “Even if the Lord returns before next February, I can go to him with joy and thanks in my heart.”
Facilitators included Ivor Poobalan (Principal, Colombo Theological Seminary) and Ajith Fernando (Youth for Christ). Ivor is a Tamil, while Ajith is Singhala!
It was crucial that both languages be spoken and so a wireless system was utilised, with participants wearing headphones and Lakmal and Joel sitting side-by-side at the back bringing simultaneous translation.
Eight preaching clubs were established – from Colombo in the West to Batticaloa in the East; from Galle in the South to Jaffna, where such unspoken and unspeakable sadness occurred so recently, in the North – and where FOCUS staff worker, Paheerathan, will be the facilitator.