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Responding to Challenges in India and Sri Lanka

With their freedom of religion under considerable pressure and persecution, the Christians of these countries are exhibiting commitment and faith in service.

Early this fall (2005) I concluded a trip to India and Sri Lanka. I had the opportunity to spend time with the key leaders in the Evangelical alliances in these two countries.

One young man on the staff lost 60 people in his extended family [to the Tsunami].

I was both inspired and encouraged by depth of commitment and the level of expertise demonstrated by the staff in India and Sri Lanka. In both countries Evangelical Christians are facing considerable challenges in living out the Gospel.

In India, the India Evangelical Fellowship through its network of 200 Christian lawyers regularly hears reports about Christians being discriminated against or being persecuted for their faith. Similarly in Sri Lanka Christians are under great pressure. Since the beginning of the year, more than 50 churches have been destroyed. Additionally in Sri Lanka a new "anti-conversion" law is being proposed that could have a very chilling effect on Christian ministry. The staff lawyers in both India and Sri Lanka are intervening through the courts and parliaments to these human rights and religious freedom issues.

While in Sri Lanka, I was able to participate in a retreat for the 70 plus staff. I was particular moved in hearing the stories of the many staff who have served tirelessly assisting churches in responding to the victims of the December 26, 2004, Tsunami. One young man on the staff lost 60 people in his extended family. Out of his own pain, he ministers the love of Christ to hurting people.

This trip reminded me again of the daily challenges Christians face in many parts of the world. Freedoms that I often take for granted in my own country are just not part of the experience of many of our sisters and brothers around the world.

In our conversations with these leaders we are working out specific strategies on how Christians in other nations can intervene with their own governments about these human rights issues. Let's remember to pray for these faithful workers.

Geoff Tunnicliffe is the international coordinator for the World Evangelical Alliance, and director of global initiatives with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.




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