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Caring for families in Sri Lanka

Thanks to your giving, our partner NCEASL has been able to help persecuted pastors in Sri Lanka – providing an essential lifeline for them and their families during the relentless Covid-19 pandemic.

‘While I was at home last year with my wife, a group of monks and a few villagers from the area arrived uninvited and told me to stop my church services as Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country,’ said village pastor James.

When he reported the incident to the village police, they sided with his accusers. The next day James received an official letter ordering him to stop all Christian meetings.

However, after contacting our partner NCEASL (the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka), he received prompt legal advice and support to help him withstand the intimidation.

‘I give my thanks to its legal  department who guided and helped me when I was facing these issues,’ he said. ‘At this time I was also asked [by the authorities] to install CCTV cameras for my own safety – but these were quite expensive and I didn’t have the funds. As I was praying and asking God, NCEASL offered to cover the cost!

‘Furthermore, during the Covid-19 pandemic when the church was closed, the organisation provided me and
my family with food. I thank God for their support and the many ways they are helping Christians. I pray God’s blessings upon NCEASL and all the good work it is doing.’

As the testimony of James shows, the coming of the pandemic has not reduced persecution – but rather is an additional burden for Christian families suffering oppression in Sri Lanka.

In the first six months of 2021, NCEASL recorded 47 cases of persecution against churches and individual believers. In particular, extremist Buddhists continue to pressurise churches to close – especially those in rural areas. They argued that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist nation, and that to be a Sri Lankan is to be a Buddhist. Monks with these views continue to incite threats and intimidation against congregations, pastors and their families. As a result, the children of persecuted believers often suffer stress and trauma – and need help with their schooling.

Your support is helping dozens of Christian families to survive at this difficult time.

‘Many of these children’s parents are struggling to make ends meet,’ said our partner. ‘The money provided has ensured that their children will continue to get an education.’

Covid has become a major point of concern – not just in terms of the health of students – but in their psychological state too. Many suffer from being confined to their homes.

‘Their education has taken a massive hit,’ said our partner. ‘As schools across the island have been closed, all education has moved to an online platform. Many of the students living outside the capital Colombo do not have access to such facilities, so families are struggling to cope.’

Because of the pandemic, NCEASL has been unable to hold its popular Kids Camp, which provide an opportunity each year for families to have a fun break and to receive pastoral care and encouragement. Also travel restrictions have severely limited the number of visits our partner can make to families in remote areas.

In response it has set up new children’s educational and spiritual programmes online, using Zoom where possible to host virtual classrooms. In more remote areas, where communications are limited, families can access these resources using the WhatsApp messaging service, which is more widely available.

Kusum, for example, is a Christian teacher being supported by our partner to help families in these ways. Because communications are poor in her region, she cannot host virtual classes, but sends her notes to pupils by mobile phone. ‘Since I cannot meet my students face to face I must also make many phone calls. However, the support shown by NCEASL has been a great encouragement and keeps me going.’

SRI LANKA

Population: 23 million

Capital: Colombo

Government type: Presidential republic

Religion: Buddhist 70%, Hindu 13%, Muslim 10%, Christian 6%,

Evangelical Christian 1%

Sources: World Factbook.

CHILDREN HELPED

Your support is changing lives

SHERONI

Sheroni’s father started a church in 2008 in a rural area. As a young pastor and father, he faced many financial struggles as well as persecution. Over the years, however, the family managed to come to a better position. Our partner NCEASL helped them to start a small business – and this boosted their income.

Sheroni has finished her A-levels and hopes to pursue a career in law. Although she applied to many universities, intakes have been delayed because of the pandemic. However, with help from NCEASL, she is doing an online course in IT and English which the university recommended. Sheroni and her family are extremely grateful for this support at this difficult time.

NEHIEL

Nehiel’s father, a pastor, has also struggled during the pandemic. His income from tithes has been reduced while prices have risen, including internet access which his son Nehiel needs for his studies. They are thankful that God has provided for them through the support of our partner. Nehiel hopes one day to become a doctor and serve his village. The family prays that God will bless NCEASL and that all the work done will bear much fruit.

JENIKA

Andrew is pastoring a new church. The congregation is building a meeting place, so finances are stretched and he is struggling to pay for his daughter Jenika’s education. Jenika is a girl who loves the outdoors and art. She is very creative. She loves butterflies, their colours, the way they fly and their beauty. She also loves playing outdoor sports and getting involved in active games.

Your support has helped to ease the family’s financial burden to educate their daughter. They would not have known what to do if our partner had not come to their aid. Jenika says that in the future she wants to serve God through medicine. The scholarship provided has helped her on this journey.

Names have been changed.


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