Making Bridges to the Gospel in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, a patchwork of hope is being woven into the broken fabric of society. The threads that bind the Tamil-speaking Hindus and the Sinhala-speaking Buddhists remain divided after three decades of civil war. But a little Christian church in the suburbs of Colombo is becoming a symbol of healing for the Tamil and Sinhalese people.
The pastor, Reverend *Ashan, who is Tamil, has learned Sinhala and is building a safe place for both groups to mingle and experience Gospel reconciliation. He says that Langham’s preaching training seminar, which he recently attended and acted as a translator for both Tamil and Sinhala, is helping him to train and lift up other leaders for the church in Sri Lanka, where evangelicals make up a little more than 1% of the primarily Buddhist population.
Because Ashan and the leaders in his church have a heart for the deep study of God’s Word, they have started a small Bible college where they use some of Langham’s pastor-training material to take students, all lay leaders, “through an in-depth study of Scripture.” Students are equipped to serve as missionaries, teach in Sunday school and disciple other leaders.
God Opens a Way
To see God’s Word reaching into all corners of Sri Lanka, Ashan has helped plant 7 churches throughout the country—many of them in the hard places: the majority are in Tamil communities in the North and East, areas where the worst fighting occurred during the long civil war. In these communities exists distrust, hurt, and fresh wounds from many years of fighting. In Monargala, one of the least evangelized regions to the south east, *Ashan says that planting a church among the primarily Buddhist community would cause tension. So they began by building community.
He says, “We offer classes and programs. We have games. We start connecting and making a bridge. That is how we begin. After some time, if God opens a way we may have a church building, but we don’t focus on that.”
God is opening a way through the ministry of a husband and wife from Ashan’s church in Colombo (pictured with Ashan). *Samuel and *Janani recently relocated into a Buddhist community in west Sri Lanka where no churches exist and Christ followers are sometimes persecuted. Since moving, they have built relationships with several Buddhists in the community. What began as shared meals (Janani is quite a cook!) has transformed into weekly Sunday evening gatherings where Ashan and other leaders from his church come to share God’s Word and answer questions from those exploring the Gospel for the first time, including from one young man who comes without his parents’ knowledge.
“This man says, ‘I like to listen to the Word of God,’” Ashan recounts. “So, we just teach them the Word of God and we believe that the Word of God can transform lives.”
This is how the ministry of Langham works–by raising up leaders like Ashan who go on to prepare Gospel messengers like Samuel and Janani to share the love of Christ in their communities. By partnering with Langham, you make possible the training and mentoring of thousands of pastors and lay leaders just like Ashan in 60+ nations. We are grateful!
Learn more about how you can partner with Langham to bring much-needed training and mentoring to pastors like Ashan around the world.
*Names have been altered to protect the identities of those living and serving in this sensitive region.