General secretary of the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka
“As Christians, our calling is to be the prophetic voice in the nation. A crisis gives us more opportunities to play that role. We see the crisis we are facing in Sri Lanka as an opportunity for the church to stand up for the biblical principles of truth, justice, accountability, and the dignity of people.”
As the general secretary of the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), Godfrey Yogarajah is at the forefront of a Christian organization that has made “uniting the local church to transform the nation” its vision. The Alliance itself has operated for more than 60 years, working on social-justice-related issues in Sri Lanka and advocating for Christians and other marginalized communities in the country.
During the nearly three decades of civil war, the NCEASL was at the forefront of advocating for civilians who were being abducted or targeted, raising awareness of journalists who were being killed, and speaking out against violations of human rights such as “enforced disappearances.”
In the course of the Alliance’s work, Yogarajah recounted pushbacks, threats, intimidation, raids on their offices, and even staff being taken in for questioning at times by the authorities of successive governments.
Since March, despite the disruptions caused by unbridled inflation and socioeconomic instability, NCEASL has reached out to young people to educate them on politics, democracy, and “good governance.” NCEASL showcased their self-produced short films centering peace and reconciliation at the protest site of Galle Face Green, Colombo, where hundreds of thousands gathered to protest against Rajapaksa and his government.
As the political crisis has worn on, Yogarajah and the Alliance have begun leading community discussions on much-needed constitutional reform.
“We’ve identified individual and corporate righteousness, economic sufficiency, public justice, and social peace as our indicators for transformation,” said Yogarajah, describing how the NCEASL designs its programs and, essentially, picks its battles.
The prophet Amos’s call for his people’s repentance and Esther’s courageous advocacy for her nation are inspirations to Yogarajah. Christians, he says, have that same “prophetic call in the nation.”
While much of his work focuses on engaging civil society, the NCEASL is committed to helping those hurting on the ground. They run community kitchens around the country and have provided relief to low-income families during this time.
“For Christians, I would say that whenever we see injustice and discrimination, God calls us to stand with the oppressed, vulnerable, and marginalised,” said Yogarajah. “Many people are suffering in the current crisis and finding it hard to make ends meet. In the face of such difficulty, it is also our responsibility to respond in love and take care of the vulnerable.”