The collective wisdom from the Asian Access family in light of our current global crisis is such a treasure. As they come in, I’d like to share them with you so that you can sense their heart and the insight they have for those of us in the global body of Christ. Just like our series Eastern Voices, these voices are golden in our day and age.
I trust you’ll take a moment to watch/read these words from my colleague, Adrian De Visser, from Sri Lanka. He has an important message to share!
Hi, I'm Pastor Adrian from Sri Lanka.
After spending a few days in prayer in meditation and worship, I thought it is appropriate that I share with you through this video.
REFLECTING ON VARIOUS SUFFERINGS
As a Sri Lankan and as a believer and as a Christian leader, I have seen so many sufferings within the past six decades.
We saw a senseless war in my country for over 30 years. Over a hundred thousand people were killed. And the war may be over, but the suffering of our people still continues. The suffering of the Tamil community in the north and east, and the soldiers and the families who lost some of their dear ones… it continues.
Then we saw the 2004 tsunami. About 230,000 people across Asia were affected—were killed. I have visited almost every village in Sri Lanka that was affected by the tsunami. And, by the grace of God, we were able to carry out a lot of relief work, build villages, care for the community—both the Christian and the non-Christian community. What a privilege it was for us to do that.
2019 Easter Bombings
Then considering the Easter bombings that took place last year, over 300 people [who] were worshipping God in churches were killed. And I have met so many people who are still suffering: husbands who lost their wives, and parents who lost their children, and children they lost their parents.
Then the coronavirus—the suffering… Across the world, about 170 countries have been affected, and over 10,000 people have been killed. Even in Sri Lanka, our country has been locked down for the last four days. And yesterday the government lifted the curfew for six hours so that we can buy some provisions for ourselves. What a stampede it created. We saw the best in our people; we also saw the worst in our people. In some situations, it was the survival of the fittest. I, too, was guilty of trying to gather as much as possible because of the uncertainty and not knowing when the curfew will be lifted again.
CONVICTED BY MY DAUGHTER'S COMPASSION
But when I came home, I was confronted by [my daughter] Thilini’s behavior. She was gathering food for the poor; she was calling and checking on the poor. And she even withdrew money from her account, and she was sharing with the very needy people.
Loving Our Neighbors
At that point, I realized in the midst of the pain and suffering, we cannot overlook our responsibility of caring for those in need. I have been concerned that many Christians have been quoting Scripture and comforting ourselves. Yes, we need to quote scripture. Yes, we need to comfort ourselves. But we have a responsibility by those who are outside the kingdom. They live with so much anxiety, fear; they have no hope. Perhaps this is one of the opportunities we have to exercise a belief and conviction of “Love your God with your whole mind and your whole self and love your neighbor as yourself.”
BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING
This is not the time for us to celebrate our victory—our protection. This is true; we are the children of God and God will protect. But we are also the salt and the light of the nation. That is why God has left us on this planet Earth. We are to be the salt and the light in the midst of the pandemic. When there is so much fear and so much anxiety, it is us who can bring hope to people; we can calm their nerves.
A Lesson from the Past
When I look at the history of our world and the pandemics, I am amazed as to how the Christians responded to the needs of the people. Emperor Julian, this is what he said—I'm paraphrasing it—he said “Look at these Christians. They not only care for their people, they're caring for our own, too.” And he said, “It is a disgrace for us. During every pandemic that humanity has faced, the Church of Jesus Christ has been in the forefront of caring for people.” Some of these historians even say that in some cities, the numbers went down because the Christians cared and shared with people.
This is what I hope will happen.
An Example from This Week
Let me share a story that took place in one of our church plants within the last 48 hours. This church was under attack. Some people who were not of our faith were not happy that the church was planted. And the people who were gathering for worship and prayer, so they attacked this church. And they thought that was it—the church was over. But I must say, the believers continued in their faith in the midst of such hostility. And this very church gathered food stuff and they gathered food stuff for 200 families, and they went to the homes of the very people who gave them such a tough time. Last evening one of the leaders from this community called me and said,
“Pastor, this is amazing what is happening here! The people who attacked us are crying, they are apologizing, and they're saying, 'We never realized you Christians will behave like this. We attacked you, but you are blessing us!'"
But isn't this the story of Christianity?
Isn’t this what our Lord taught us? Isn't this what we stand for—to care for people? This is the time to care for those in need. Consider those in need—the vulnerable. Consider those who have moved away from our churches. Consider the young people who do not or did not want to be a part of our church. This is a great opportunity for us to share and to be the hands and feet of our Lord.
“Those who saw with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who are weeping, carrying the seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”
THIS IS MY PRAYER.
At the moment, it looks like a tragedy; but remember God is suffering. God will use this pandemic for his glory. At the moment, it may look like God has abandoned us. God has not. The loving Father is drawing his children to himself. Maybe we don't understand everything, but let's look at history and remember that he is suffering, he is Lord. This is my prayer—that the church will truly be the salt and the light of the nation, the church will refuse to protect itself and live in our ivory towers and discuss theology, but rather, we will meet our people and care for their needs.
God bless you as you serve those in need.
Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/-T6Gv24NYOY
Joe Handley, President
- Thlini De Visser's profile
- We're in this together!
- See https://asianaccess.org/coronovirus for more posts on how COVID-19 is affecting us.