This winter, the message of the Gospel flooded the coasts of Sri Lanka, an island nation engulfed in civil war for decades and submerged in a devastating tsunami in 2004.
Fourteen students and faculty members from Southwestern Seminary traveled to Sri Lanka to share the Gospel, Dec. 26 – Jan. 9. As a result, nearly 40 Buddhists professed faith in Christ. According to Art Savage, associate director of the World Missions Center, the team worked in the least-reached area of the nation among people in desperate need of the love of Christ.
“At the end of the civil war, people needed something to hold onto,” Savage said. “The tsunami robbed them of any sense of security. I don’t think there was a family that was untouched by the tsunami in some way. The time was right. They were looking for hope, something that would bring meaning to life.”
The Gospel brought hope not only amid national disaster but also through personal tragedy. Early in the trip, Keith Eitel, dean of the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions, walked along a city road and noticed one man, Sammy, sitting alone at a shrine to Buddha.
Eitel placed a hand on Sammy’s shoulder and asked how he was doing. Sammy looked up at Eitel with tearful eyes and said Somali pirates had abducted his son and nephew six weeks earlier while they were fishing in the Indian Ocean. He had heard no news of them for weeks, even though the abduction had been reported in international news.
After Eitel expressed his sympathy and shared the Gospel with him, Sammy made a profession of faith in Christ. As Southwestern team members conducted Bible studies in Sammy’s home, Sammy’s wife and another nephew also professed faith in Christ, along with some of his neighbors. Sammy stopped praying to Buddha and began reading as much from the Bible each day that his poor eyesight would allow.
Eitel testified that the Gospel brought hope to Sammy amid his pain, but he also requested that students and faculty members pray for Sammy’s spiritual growth and for the safe return of his son and nephew.