Sri Lanka

"With no end in sight to the war, we persevere in seeking to be faithful to God."

In the early 1980s, something good happened in the church here. Christians, especially in the newer charismatic churches, began taking the gospel to the rural villages (most Christians lived in the cities), and churches began springing up in areas where there had previously been no Christian witness. Many Buddhists and Hindus came to Christ—something that rarely happened in the past. This evangelistic fervor hit segments of the older mainline churches too, and they began planting churches in non-Christian areas, often creating new structures to accommodate these new churches.

This is a welcome development in a country where the number of Christians has dropped from about 10 percent of the population at the start of this century to 7.5 percent in the early eighties, with Protestants accounting for just 0.7 percent. This is happening in a context where Buddhism—the religion of 67 percent of the population—is the national religion (though the Hindu, Muslim, and Christian minorities have the freedom to practice and propagate their faith).

There are several reasons for this growth spurt. The first is that Christians began to talk in a new way about practical ways of fulfilling the Great Commission. This reflects the influence of the emphasis of "reaching the unreached" in the great international conferences on evangelization attended by Sri Lankan Christian leaders in the sixties and seventies. Many had been praying for revival in Sri Lanka, and revival came in the form of a revived interest in evangelization. Larger churches have sponsored the starting of daughter churches in unreached areas, and giving toward such missionary ...

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