In December, you heard from our communications manager Nicki, about her excitement for the work of TWR Canada. This week she shares about her recent ministry trip to Sri Lanka.
I sat in a boardroom at the YMCA in Singapore. I had no idea what I was about to be part of. The devotion for the day was on Jonah. We heard how even if we don’t want to listen to him, God is still in control and at work while we’re sitting inside the whale’s stomach. What a truth that we all need to remember. Even if we’ve run far from God, he’s still working out the details of the work he has set out to accomplish.
Then it started. Over the next two days, 17 TWR ministry partners from 17 different countries shared what God is doing in their corner of the world; we heard from partners in places like Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. We heard about ministry in war-torn countries and highly persecuted countries, countries where it’s illegal to evangelize and countries where the evangelical Christian population is less than a half of a percent. But God is at work. He is changing lives, and he is bringing hope into the world through mass media.
I learned that in China, the laws are being tightened making it illegal to convert to another faith. I learned that Japan is often a forgotten country because people in the west still associate it with WWII and don’t want to send money there. In the Philippines, they had to let two staff members go due to a lack of funding. In Pakistan, doors are still closed to the gospel. In Bhutan, the ministry is only just beginning. Yet through it all, God is abounding in sovereign power and steadfast love.
After two days of hearing stories of light shining into the hard-to-reach corners of the earth, I got on a flight and headed to Sri Lanka to see the ministry there firsthand.
My initial impressions of Sri Lanka were a bit surprising. I don’t know why, but in my mind, I imagined flying in on an unpaved runway, getting off the flight and seeing grass huts. I was entirely wrong. The airport in Colombo is a very busy place. There are people everywhere. There are porters who don’t look where they are going and run into you, merchants trying to sell items to you, homeless skinny dogs that sit at your feet and many cars, buses and tut-tuts with wild drivers. Yet for all the differences, it also seemed strangely familiar.
I was thankful to have flown from Singapore to Sri Lanka with two people who work for TWR Sri Lanka. They were able to navigate the porters, the merchants and the dogs and get me safely to my hotel.
After a refreshing night's sleep, I was picked up and taken to the TWR Sri Lanka office where I met with a listener and a producer of women’s programming. In the afternoon, I went to another listener’s home for an interview and tea. It seemed that everyone I met had a smile that radiated what could only be the joy of the Lord. My heart was filled with so much joy! I went away thankful and thinking: "Look what God did. Look how he found what was lost. Look how he fixed what was broken. Look how he made new what was old."
On my second day, I was taken to see the radio towers where the hope of Christ is transmitted into Sri Lanka and India. It was incredible to see firsthand the technology that is being used to receive the message of hope then transmit it to millions. We continued to meet locals as well. After meeting a local clay pot maker and his family, I had the opportunity to visit a nearby radio home group. Incidentally, men in Sri Lanka do not typically participate in radio home groups; they believe it to be for women and children only. I spoke with one Christian woman from the radio home group who shared with me that her husband was a Buddhist. Despite him not normally coming to study the Bible, he had come along with her that day. Not long before, he had an accident leaving him without a couple fingers. I was thankful to have the opportunity to pray for him despite the fact that he didn’t speak English or share the faith.
The leader of the ministry in Sri Lanka is Sanjaya. He joined the ministry in January 2018. Though quiet, he is a very effective leader. The men and women who work with him obviously respect him. As I learned more, I was impressed by his skills and heart for the ministry. After working for a similar organization for a period of time, he decided to pursue a role that he found posted by TWR Sri Lanka.
Sanjaya’s great passion is to see the youth of Sri Lanka come to know Christ. Three years ago he founded Seeds Ministry. He takes individuals on rigorous expeditions in the wilderness to train them in leadership; then these leaders work with the youth in their communities, offering leadership training and discipleship, and the cycle repeats itself.
Please pray for Sanjaya. He is a dedicated husband, father to twin girls, teacher and pastor to his community, director of a national ministry and founder of another ministry.
Sri Lanka is an incredible place to be. People move at a slower pace, the sun is hot, the humidity is intense. The Christian population is less that 0.5%, but God is moving and working. He is the potter, and the nation of Sri Lanka is his clay to mold into whatever he sees fit for his honour and his glory.
I’m very grateful for the opportunity to visit the ministry on the ground, connect with so many of our partners and hear how God is working in Asia!