HERALD INTERNATIONAL (Printing In Over Twenty Languages)
Ministry To Suffering Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, one of the nations devastated by the recent tsunami, is a nation with many and grievous wounds. In 1983, animosity between the two major ethnic groups, the Sinhala and the Tamil, erupted into civil war, and through the years tens of thousands have been killed, and hundreds of thousands have fled the country or been displaced. There has been a cease-fire since 2002, but strong tension remains and violence continues.
The vast majority of the people in Sri Lanka live in spiritual darkness and superstition and fear. Of the nationís 19 million people, about 70% are Buddhist, 15% are Hindu and 7% are Muslim. Only about 8% are Christian, and those considered to be Evangelical make up only about 1 or 2% of the total population. Operation World notes that "Buddhism is the state religion and, as such, is protected and promoted. Although freedom for other religions is assured, there has been a steady erosion of that freedom with discrimination against minority religions in taxation, employment and education and, since 1988, a rising anti-Christian feeling."
Operation World also reports that Evangelicals grew from about 50,000 in 1980 to about 240,000 in 2000, and over 330 new churches were planted between 1990-1997. But in the 1990ís in the wake of this effective evangelical outreach, persecution significantly increased. According to Compass Direct, the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka "recorded more than 170 incidents of violence against Christian individuals or institutions in the period from January 2003 to January 2005." Currently, there are concerns over anti-conversion legislation that would make it illegal to attempt to convert others, which could very likely lead to greater persecution of Christians.
The major languages in Sri Lanka are Sinhala and Tamil. English is also spoken by about 10% of the population. Literacy is high and there is a great demand for Christian literature, but good literature is not available in sufficient quantities. Herald of His Coming is thankful, therefore, for the privilege to provide revival and salvation literature in Sinhala and a more limited amount in English.
The Sinhalese Herald
For at least thirty years, until going to be with the Lord in 1998, Brother E. G. Dias-Abeyesinghe put his heart blood into publishing AC "Pera Maga Doothaya," the Sinhalese Herald in Sri Lanka, as well as multiplied tens of thousands of the Sinhalese Salvation herald, "Pera Maga" ("Narrow Way"). Being Sinhala himself, Brother Abeyesinghe had a great burden that the Sinhala people might come to know the living God he knew and for whom he lived. "We want to be spent on behalf of the Lord in giving out the Gospel to this Satan-bound land," Brother Abeyesinghe wrote. "Only Jesus can break the fetters that bind the people in sin and superstition and spiritualism."
Time and again Brother Abeyesinghe printed tens of thousands of Sinhalese Salvation heralds. Eager evangelists distributed these even in remote parts of the country, mostly to Buddhists. It was very rewarding to learn of sinners coming to repentance and believers being added to the church. As Brother Abeyesinghe saw needs being met by Herald literature, he expressed gratitude again and again to U.S. Christians who provided the funds the Herald ministry was able to send for printing and distributing.
In 1999 the torch was handed to Brother W. Nissanka as he accepted the editorship of Pera Maga Doothaya. He continues his faithful service, and is presently publishing four issues each year, with about 4,000 copies per issue. Here is a recent letter from Brother Nissanka:
Greetings in the name of Jesus!ÖIím sorry for the delay in sending you the 40th and 41st issues as we were busy ministering the Tsunami victims.
As most of the people are engaged in Tsunami ministry, they have almost forgotten other donations. So a huge number of papers are piled up in our office without sufficient stamps. Do pray for people to donate towards postage.
It is still a hard time for the Sri Lankans. But Godís grace is so wonderful in the time of such a disaster. The victims are well looked after mostly by Christian volunteers. They do not bear any label though the citizens realize that they are Christians, by their work....
We too look after nearly 150 families displaced by the Tsunami. Twelve families stay in church premises. Temporary house are built for each family and their food and other needs are provided by the church. One family occupies the Herald office after working hours. This is the situation in most of the volunteers as well as for the victims. Building up the lives of the Tsunami victims is a long term process.
Our publisher has increased the printing charges. With recent drop in funds it is impossible for us to bear it. He is the cheapest printer we met. Please let me know, what should be done. May God bless you for your effort in this blessed ministry.
The Herald ministry is also blessed to send about 430 copies of the English Herald to Sri Lanka each month. One of the distributors recently wrote:
"Thank you for sending me the 50 copies of Herald of His Coming every month. I distribute them in church and they are a blessing to our church members. They eagerly wait to receive these papersÖ. I live in a comfortable annex that belongs to a Buddhist family, but they are not against Christianity. They all attend the prayer cell which I have once a month and even make prayer requests. My landlady accompanies me to church on Sundays and she is almost converted. God is giving me souls. Praise God!"
Your Help Is Needed
The Herald office in the U.S. provides much of the funding for the Sinhalese Herald and also pays the postage costs to send the English copies to Sri Lanka. Therefore, there is an ongoing need in the U.S. office for funds for these works. As the letter from Brother Nissanka points out, additional financial help is needed to cover the increase in printing costs for the Sinhalese Herald and also to cover the shortage caused as donations have understandably been diverted toward tsunami relief. Any financial support you may be able to offer for the Heraldís ministry in Sri Lanka will be very helpful and greatly appreciated.
*Pray for spiritual strongholds of darkness to be broken, and that the nation will become more open to the Gospel.
*Pray for tsunami relief, and that the witness of Christians will be very effective.
*Pray for Christians to remain strong in the face of opposition and persecution.
*Pray for young people to have meaningful contact with the Gospel.
*Pray for villages to be reached that have never heard the Gospel message.
*Pray for protection and provision for Brother Nissanka and his co-workers.
*Pray for Frank Dias-Abeyesinghe and the others who distribute English Heralds in Sri Lanka.