Worsening Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka Inspires Global Response
By Carl Stagner
Nearly a year before the pandemic wreaked its own havoc across the globe, a series of unfortunate setbacks in Sri Lanka began to peel back the layers of economic decline that would greatly affect the day-to-day lives of locals. Tourism came to an immediate halt and pressure mounted on church prayer cells meeting in homes. With the coronavirus crisis came restrictions strictly enforced and a worsening economic crisis that has since inspired a global response from the Church of God.
“We’re experiencing shortages of most basic needs,” one Church of God missionary to Sri Lanka explains, “including electricity, food, cooking fuel, and vehicle fuel.’
Our Church of God missionaries to Sri Lanka have seen their fair share of challenges in church and society, but this one has been especially difficult.
“There are a significant number of protests around the island against the current government,” he adds, “so there’s political and social and economic chaos happening all at the same time.”
Thankfully, the Church of God has been on the ground locally, organizing response efforts aimed at not only assisting pastors, but helping them help others in the church and beyond. Fallout from the economic crisis has dropped the production of food sources to 60 percent; government stopped importing fertilizer, affecting local production, while imports to bridge the gap have come up short with the lack of funds to pay for imports. Meanwhile, diesel for power plants has decreased in supply, causing power shortages.
With hunger being a primary concern for pastors, their families, their congregations, and the surrounding community, Church of God Disaster Relief is coming alongside to financially support the local response—distribution of food and basic supplies.
“The national organization of the Church of God in Sri Lanka has done two things,” the same Church of God missionary explains. “They’ve tried to help our pastors weather the storm so they can have food on their tables…but the other side was to help our pastors also have an impact in their communities.”
An unexpected but welcome development from the crises has been the inclusion of pastors and churches in the government’s response. During COVID, local government leaders began looking to pastors to engage in helping families in crisis; in a practical sense, government now recognizes these pastors as legitimate religious leaders.
“If we had not been able to provide these resources,” the Church of God missionary continues, “our pastors wouldn’t have been able to live. But they also minister to their communities…meeting physical needs…and [making it possible] to meet spiritual needs in their communities, too.”
He notes that they’re currently working on their twelfth distribution. And, while financial support is necessary, he insists that prayer is just as vital.
“A lot of people ask what can they do, and my first response is please pray,” the missionary says. “In no way is it trite; it is absolutely necessary. It takes money for us to be here, but it takes prayers for us to stay. We covet your prayers!”
Do you feel led to support the Church of God in Sri Lanka as they respond to the present economic crisis? Church of God Ministries is only able to respond swiftly when disaster strikes because it maintains a disaster relief fund. In crises where an immediate response is critical for relief, Church of God Ministries advances funds in anticipation of a gracious outpouring of donations from churches and individuals. Disaster Relief contributions are utilized to bring relief to those affected by disasters in Sri Lanka, Ukraine, and places far beyond.
Give now at https://faithlife.com/coggm-c/give?funds=4743. Donations can also be mailed to Church of God Ministries, PO Box 2420, Anderson, IN 46018; please note that your gift is for Disaster Relief, Project #45.04502. Learn more about Church of God Disaster Relief at https://www.jesusisthesubject.org/disaster-relief/. Thank you!
Or, to learn more about supporting Sri Lanka Sustainability, visit https://chogglobal.org/mission-projects/projects-asia-pacific/srilankasustainability/.
Editor’s note—The story shared above is based on an interview with a Church of God missionary conducted by Disaster Relief specialist Michaela McCurdy.