Church at Work in Sri Lanka

Please don’t be put off from extending help because of the millions of dollars coming in from governments (Red Cross, OXFAM, etc.). The need is more than just containers of supplies. It is a “human factor” need. They can’t meet that. Only the Body of Christ is empowered to minister healing and peace and comfort. It is more than throwing mineral bottle water from moving trucks and feeling like they have done their part. It is about sitting down with a mother who has lost her husband and children, and praying with her and helping her to put the bottle of water on her lips and nourish her .... ONLY THE CHURCH CAN.

Paul Hattaway, Director, Asia Harvest

The aftermath of the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia will continue for a long time. No matter how you do your giving, through special offering at your church, or through an established famine relief and development organization, I would encourage you to give to not just any humanitarian organization, but specifically to those organizations staffed by committed Christians who unapologetically render aid to people in the name of Jesus—not for self-congratulation or guilt-relief, but for His glory.

Dying people need medical care and food and shelter...and they also need Jesus. We should feel no tension here—meeting physical needs and spiritual needs go hand in hand. Many organizations give the physical help, and of course this is commendable, but since there are organizations that give the very same kind of physical help, and often more, AND also share the good news of salvation in Christ...why shouldn’t we give exclusively to such distinctively (not just nominally) Christian organizations? And especially to those who work directly with the local Christian churches in the country in crisis?

Remember, many of the people and organizations will leave after the world media is no longer interested. I’m not being cynical—this is just a fact of life. The ones who will stay for the long haul are mostly organizations who were already working there before the crisis, and of course the most important “organization” of all: the Church, our brothers and sisters native to that country, and the missionaries serving them.

EPM is voluntarily serving two groups in Sri Lanka. One is the Lanka Evangelical Alliance Development Service (LEADS), an organization that several evangelical ministries are channeling funds to. LEADS is highly recommended by Ted Rubesh who grew up in Sri Lanka as an MK, and has served there for many years, and who I went to school with at Multnomah Bible College.

The other group is Lanka Bible College, where Ted Rubesh teaches. Ted had this to say about the relief efforts through LBC:

There is a network of alumni and present students who come from all corners of the island. Many of these come from areas affected by the tsunami, and minister to congregations and communities severely affected. A number of them have lost family and all that they own. With this network, we have already in place a group of potential eyes and ears on the ground, who know the particular situations and communities that they are involved in, and can help direct us to specific areas of need. We would like to use this network to create a broad range of practical and specific projects that could link individual donors (people and churches, etc.) abroad to specific needs...thus helping put a more personal touch to donors’ giving...and praying. We see our part not so much as doing “overall health,” but more in doing specific “micro-surgery” if you will.

EPM is forwarding all designated funds to these ministries. (One of our core principles is that we never keep any portion of funds raised for the ministries of others, so 100% of all funds given go directly to the poor and needy.) We have also taken a portion of our ministry reserve funds to give to LEADS, believing our possible future “needs” are nothing compared to their overwhelming present needs.

Of course, there are many other good organizations working in Sumatra, Sri Lanka, India, etc., and if you know one that is truly committed to Christ and is very familiar with the local culture there, that’s great, by all means do your giving through them. If you or your church wish to support LEADS or Lanka Bible College, you may send a gift to EPM, indicating the ministry on the memo or in an accompanying note. Those distributing the resources are committed Christians, church members in Sri Lanka. If you wish both for your entire gift to go to an organization with trained national Christians distributing the resources, and to get a tax deductible receipt (not so you can keep more but so you can GIVE more to the needy), you may wish to consider this option.

God says of King Josiah, “He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD “(Jeremiah 22:16). Jesus said that a day is coming when, “The King will reply, ÔI tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’“ (Matthew 25:40). That’s how personally Jesus takes the help we offer the poor.

Jesus said, “It is more blessed [which also has the connotation of “happy-making”] to give than to receive.” On behalf of the desperately needy in that part of the world, thanks for giving generously for the glory of Christ...who promises not to overlook any cup of cold water given to the needy in his name.

I thought you might be as moved as I was by these words from a missionary in Sri Lanka. We’ve been praying the Lord would allow the persecuted church of Sri Lanka to assert itself (in servanthood) in the midst of this crisis. This is an indication God is powerfully answering! May He be glorified, the church strengthened and those who were closed to the gospel be reached for Christ.

From a missionary in Sri Lanka:

The past few days have been almost inconceivable in light of the past year and half, and the heavy persecution of Christians in Sri Lanka. We have seen religious walls come down that pre-Tsunami were in life-threatening proportions. We have cleaned wells and distributed medicine in Muslim villages and Mosques, started clean up and rebuilding of schools for two Catholic churches, providing them with uniforms, books and shoes, then started digging latrines in Buddhist temple grounds for a huge refugee camp and will start construction of a new kitchen area for a temple known for refugee housing during floods of the monsoon. We actually sat and had tea with one of the more predominant and influential Buddhist monks in the nation and he was deeply moved by the compassion extended by the believers. Never before has the love of Christ been able to penetrate these religious fortresses and touch these religious leaders. They see us come to them in Christ’s love and serve them after all the persecution been handed to the brethren in Sri Lanka. It is a great honor to serve these people and to see the church come out of its walls to reach suffering people in an hour of great need. Believers here are going the extra mile, turning the other cheek, blessing those who persecute them. I am amazed and so deeply affected. My life will never be the same. 
100% of designated contributions go directly to the ministry noted.

How to Pray for the Aftermath of the Tsunami Disaster by Roshan Mendis, LEADS Director in Sri Lanka

Please pray for:

all of the countries involved

people who have lost family members, especially children who have lost families

those who have lost home and belongings

health care & relief efforts, and for relief workers

the wise use of resources and aid

compassion among those involved in relief efforts

survivor guilt haunting those who blame themselves for another’s death

the safety of the volunteer/medical teams (local & foreign)

and the logistics support staff at LEADS

ease of stress and work overload of current LEADS staff stretched to the limit

honesty & integrity of all local government representatives

leadership & dedication of the politicians to unite apart from political agendas

proper formulation of national policies (that these may not cause and create further poverty)

the recruitment processes in all of our offices (that the correct people will be picked)

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries