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Political Strife in Sri Lanka Brings Turmoil to Church

ICC Note:

At least 148 churches have been closed down because of violence between government and rebels, but this is also an opportunity for Christians to witness to disillusioned Buddhists and Hindus.

By Ethan Cole

Christian Post (10/25/06) – Escalation of violence in Sri Lanka has not only caused food shortages and displaced residents, but it has also resulted in the shut-downs of over a hundred churches and a Christian aid worker being taken hostage.

Days ahead of the peace talks between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger Rebels on Oct. 28 in Switzerland , the secretary general of the Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka, Godfrey Yagarajah, shared how the violence has severely impacted the Christian community.

“148 churches have been closed down and some of them burned,” said Yagarajah, according to a report by Mission Network News on Tuesday. “Christian workers were beaten up.”

An aid worker with the World Evangelical Alliance is among the victims of the violence in northern Sri Lanka , having been held hostage for over a month.

Fighting between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a rebel group, has killed 2,735 people between Dec. 1 and Oct. 10, according to Sri Lanka ’s Media Center for National Security. The United Nations reported that over 200,000 people have been internally displaced due to the violence.

However, Yagarajah sees opportunities in spite of the many obstacles and hardship faced by Christians and the county’s citizens.

“There is a sense of disillusionment among the Buddhist and the Hindus and many of them are looking for answer and it has opened a lot of opportunities for the church to minister,” the Sri Lankan evangelical head stated.

Delegations from both sides of over a dozen representatives will meet Oct. 28-29 although there is no set agenda, according to Agence France-Presse.