CWO President Greg Yoder reflects on his first trip to
Sri Lanka taken in January 2022.
During the last two years CWO has God directing and leading us to establish a new ministry in a new country. It did not always make sense to do this during some uncertain times and when travel was restricted. The question that was asked is, how we could get a ministry started in Sri Lanka without seeing the need firsthand and not meeting those who would be on the ground doing the work? We followed God’s leading and He was faithful to supply workers and all that was needed to get the ministry off the ground.
The ministry leader, Rajeeve has felt God’s calling to establish ministry in his home country that he left over 30 years ago. He prayed that God would lead him to someone living in Sri Lanka that had a similar calling and who wanted to share the Gospel. He also prayed that God would lead him to someone who could help in establishing a ministry. God led Rajeeve to Bavan through another person and we met at a weekly men’s Bible study which met both of these needs, allowing the ministry to begin in January 2020.
CWO is now meeting the physical needs of widows and the elderly, providing us with the opportunity to be a part of their lives so they are willing to hear the Gospel. The need for children to receive tutoring after school is also being met with the goal of reaching their families with the Gospel.
Now that travel has opened up, I had the privilege to travel to Sri Lanka with Rajeeve. I have traveled to Haiti numerous times and also visited and participated in ministry in Burkina Faso, Zambia and Zimbabwe so this was travel to a new part of the world. This was also a new experience for me because Sri Lanka is more of a developed country than the other countries I have gone to in the past. I must admit I took pictures of the McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Popeyes, and other fast-food restaurants that I saw. I was also impressed by the large skyscrapers that are being constructed in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo. This was also unlike some of my other travels because of the infrastructure in the country. I am not accustomed to having electricity 24/7, Internet and a hot shower when traveling, so having these made this trip different.
Since Sri Lanka is an Asian country, I had the joy of learning about a new culture. The similarity between Sri Lanka and the other countries I have been to is the hospitality of the people. Everyone we visited took time to sit and talk and also feed us. This was the type of trip I enjoy because we just spent time with people and immersed ourselves in the culture. One difference was experiencing the different religions of Sri Lanka. Everywhere you looked there was some type of temple or image especially Buddhist and Hindu. Many times during the day we would hear the prayers and chants coming from the large speakers on top of the temples. There seemed to be an overwhelming heaviness in the air at times because of the bombardment of the sounds of chants.
Being able to see this new ministry in person was a true blessing. We had the opportunity to meet with the widows and elderly that we are serving. We spent time listening to their life stories, praying with them, sharing a meal and giving them their two weeks supply of food staples. It was also encouraging to see one of the young men Bavan has been discipling join us when serving the widows and the elderly.
We were warmly welcomed by the children, who attend the tutoring in the afternoon, when we visited the home where they meet. They all respectfully removed their sandals before entering the porch that is used as a classroom and then took a seat at their desks. There were lots of smiles and giggles as we spent time with them and served them the first meal for the start of the feeding program.
I thank God for the opportunity I had to visit Sri Lanka and I pray that God will use this new ministry, He orchestrated into place, to make a difference in this new country and new culture. Our goal is to meet some physical, social and educational needs of people giving us the opportunity to share the Gospel with those weighed down by the burden of their needs and bombardment of other religions.
To find out more about ministry in Sri Lanka and how you can support our work in-country, click on Sri Lanka at the top of the page.