Sri Lanka’s painful aftermath
On 19 May the President of Sri Lanka declared the 25-year-old civil war between the Sinhalese government forces and LTTE (Tamil Tigers) officially ended. The Tamil Tigers were defeated after a conflict in which more than 80,000 lives were lost and 1.2 million people displaced.
Now a major humanitarian crisis is unfolding in north-east Sri Lanka. Many who had fled to government camps are in urgent need of aid, and Jeyakanth has been trying to help. He is the senior pastor of over twenty Tamil and two Sinhalese Reformed churches that he planted or linked together as the Lanka Evangelical Fellowship of Churches (LEFC).
Two LEFC churches near the war zone in Vanni have been destroyed. Two believers are known to have died. Many are missing and still more are suffering with sickness, stress and mental exhaustion.
To help Christians trapped in the refugee camps, Jeyakanth arranged for two pastors from nearby churches to spend four days there, distributing clothing, dry rations and flip-flops. Some deacons were given money to distribute to Christians so they could buy essential items from the camp welfare shop.
There is a great need for clean water, medicine, food, clothes and milk powder for the children. Many other churches in Sri Lanka are collecting items and money to send to the north. Despite their own poverty they are willing to make sacrifices.
However, it is not only the aftermath of civil war that Sri Lankan Christians are contending with – they face increasing opposition from Hindus and Buddhists. At one church in Mutur, the Hindus bribed the authorities to prevent Christians meeting. Other Christians are experiencing harassment from Sinhalese Buddhists emboldened by their success in the war.
Jeyakanth was forced to leave Sri Lanka in 2006 as his life was endangered. He now lives with his family in London and pastors the South London Tamil church in Tooting. In spite of personal risk, he returns to Sri Lanka two or three times a year to encourage the churches.
I had the privilege of visiting with him last October and witnessing firsthand the hardships Christians face. Their faith and the reality of their love for the Lord had a profound effect on me.
I experienced the daily dangers that are part of Christian life in Sri Lanka. On one occasion after a morning service, terrorists came and kidnapped a 24-year-old man called Rajenni while we were having a meal. We are not sure why they took him, but he has not been seen since.
The author is an elder at Amyand Park Chapel, Twickenham. He can supply interested readers with a free 45-minute DVD on the work in Sri Lanka – mailto:[email protected] or 0208 941 4374.