Saints in Sri Lanka: De Silva Sheds Light on Saga of the Steadfast

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Global Strategy, Global Testimonies

By Carl Stagner

We have much to learn from our sisters and brothers overseas. In a setting like Sri Lanka, circumstances aren’t consistently ideal for life and ministry, but ministry continues. Especially in view of severe economic crises, widespread maltreatment against Christians, and limited access to necessary resources and critical infrastructure, the testimony of the Church of God halfway around the world can prove not only inspiring, but also insightful. This saga of the steadfast is ongoing as the saints in Sri Lanka persist in servant-driven ministry to those without the essentials, while standing strong in the face of rising persecution. A recent check-in with the country’s national coordinator of the Church of God offers more than a status update; conversation with Chrisantha De Silva puts providential perseverance in proper perspective.

First, maladies of global proportion metastasize faster and further in parts of the world removed in proximity from first-world countries. When COVID-19 struck worldwide, the United States, for instance, took a hard hit. But the pandemic’s prevalence proved especially problematic for places already roiled by political and economic devastation. Broad recovery isn’t within reach for many, and hopelessness settles in quickly.

Second, Christianity is not the predominant faith there. Across the religious landscape of Sri Lanka, putting Jesus first comes with a notable degree of risk: standing out for daring to be different in this way commonly puts enmity between political leaders and the church, if not also between the saints of Sri Lanka and the general population. Whether manifested in the abuse of resource distribution—such as necessary food and basic supplies—or in the heavy hand of government upon Christian organizations, the persecution may not have driven the Church of God underground, but it does require care, courage, and creativity.

“Almost all the members have the grace in facing the underground persecution from other religious groups in Sri Lanka,” Chrisantha De Silva explains, “even though the pastors have small congregations [with few resources. Thankfully] members are being looked after by the Lord!”

Chrisantha De Silva has served as the national coordinator for the Church of God in Sri Lanka since 2014. He finds strength in reviewing a blessed recent past of the Movement in his country, where feeding programs provided 18,600 meals in just nine months during the pandemic; where members of the church and their families were offered financial assistance during the same difficult season; where “pastor sustainability” efforts supplies spiritual shepherds of the Church of God in Sri Lanka with “poultry, cultivation, computers and accessories, motorcycles” for practical ministry travel and more. Like the recent past, efforts to match the growth of the Church of God with anointed and equipped pastoral leaders have translated to investment in training and expansion opportunities. Theological education is an ongoing reality and need, all while three church buildings are under construction.

In recognition of the immutability of the God they serve, the saints in Sri Lanka set their sights on the future. The same God who worked wonders among them in the past, they believe, will supply and sustain them into the future—even in the midst of adversity. Therefore, the need is great for even more training sessions, Bible schooling, youth leader training, women’s empowerment, a family camp, and community resources like grocery, printing, and communication infrastructure.

“We thank God,” Chrisantha De Silva reflects, “for all prayer partner teams and faithful and caring support so far to the Church of God Sri Lanka ministry, vested by him to us for the advancement of his kingdom in Sri Lanka. We look forward to your valued prayers and support in the future, too.”

Chrisantha De Silva cites the help of Global Strategy missionaries Steven and Peggy Beverly as invaluable; he also looks forward to the additional assistance and guidance Global Strategy provides through the training of new leaders. Strengthening of their bonds in Christ among the churches in Sri Lanka emerges as a primary prayer request, however, even as external difficulties persists. That’s because, as Chrisantha De Silva puts it, even in those challenges, “God is there.”

To learn more, and to partner with what the Lord is doing in Sri Lanka through the Church of God, consider Sri Lanka Ministry Sustainability and Sri Lanka: 3 Decades, 3 Churches. To learn more about our Global Strategy missionaries to Sri Lanka, Steven and Peggy Beverly, click here.

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