Despite an official ceasefire, Sri Lanka’s lengthy internal conflict has intensified. In the last two weeks, 136,000 people fled their homes to seek protection in refugee camps. Among those displaced were eight Gospel for Asia missionaries and at least 83 of their church families.
Over the last 15 months, 4,000 people have died in the conflict between Sri Lanka’s government and the insurgent group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Civilians are continually caught in the middle of this conflict, as suicide bombers, mines and mortar bombs are common and indiscriminate forms of attack.
“Having been to this part of the country, my heart aches for these innocent suffering people,” said GFA President K.P. Yohannan.
The escalating situation saw the LTTE, for the first time, launch an aerial strike against the government airport on March 26, killing three airmen and wounding 16 others.
The prospects for a peaceful resolution to this situation seem unlikely. The BBC quoted Sri Lanka’s official government military spokesman, Brigadier Prasad Samarasing, as saying, “We are left with no option but to intensify our operations to silence their guns.”
In the past six months, the government has cleared out several Tamil Tiger strongholds in Batticaloa in the east. The fighting has forced thousands to leave their crops, schooling and homes to find shelter in government-run areas. However, there is not enough sanitation, housing or food for the displaced, which some estimate to be as many as 160,000.
The Sri Lankan people are still recovering from the massive tsunami that wiped out huge areas of East Sri Lanka in December 2004. For many of them, the life they rebuilt was left behind again when they fled.
GFA’s Sri Lanka leader, Lal Vanderwall, says the 83 families and eight pastors who were displaced see this as an opportunity to share the hope they have in Christ with their fellow refugees. While they face the same dangers and discomforts as the others, they are trusting the Lord to work through the nightmarish situation.
“Let us pray for them and the workers serving among them at this time,” Yohannan said. “We will also be praying for the Lord to protect the lives of all the refugees and that the missionaries and believers in the group would be able to bring the hope of the Gospel in the midst of this desperate situation.”
Gospel for Asia is a mission organization involved in evangelism and church planting in Asia’s unreached regions. Currently Gospel for Asia supports more than 16,000 church planters in 10 countries of South Asia. On average, these missionaries establish approximately 10 fellowships every day among unreached villages and people groups. Gospel for Asia is also committed to training native missionaries. The organization’s 54 Bible colleges are preparing nearly 9,000 students to become full-time church planters.
For Interviews with Dr. K.P. Yohannan, President and Intl Director of Gospel for Asia, please contact Taun Cortado at 1-800-946-2742 or email at: email@example.com
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