‘The Word of God is our Life!’ – Langham Preaching in Sri Lanka

4 July 2017

By Rev Kanishka Raffel (Anglican Dean of Sydney)

It’s a great privilege to be involved with Langham Preaching in the country of my parents’ birth, Sri Lanka.  Last year Peter Adam, former Principal of Ridley Melbourne, and Sam Morton now serving as Youth Pastor of St Luke’s Anglican Church Miranda (Sydney), and I led Strand Two of the second round of Langham Preaching in Sri Lanka.

Participants included pastors from both Singhalese and Tamil communities.  In a country recovering from thirty years of civil war, the church of Jesus unites those who in so many other contexts are divided.  It was a joy to see.  Participants came from Anglican, Baptist, Reformed, Independent and Pentecostal churches and para-church ministries.  Peter, Sam and I were translated into two languages simultaneously!  As participants gave sample sermons for review and feedback, they preached in their native language and were translated into English for us.

Making an Impact

One of the training sessions, ‘Making an Impact’, asks the program participants to work in small groups to identify the major ‘issues’ in personal, church and national life.  These issues are, of course, the particular background in which they exercise their ministry of preaching God’s word. It was a most illuminating session.  Among the top issues identified in the personal sphere, the participants listed the breakdown of family relationships due to the influence of technology and an accompanying neglect of God’s Word.  In the area of ‘church issues’ the participants identified the pressures on pastors, the difficulty of raising up the next generation of leaders and providing them with godly models, and the temptation of misusing financial resources.

Sri Lanka is facing many issues on a national level, such as discrimination against Christians and violence against women.

At the national level, the top issues included discrimination against minorities (including Christians), violence against women, limited access to education and self-interested government leaders.  There was a deep sense that the nation and church faced many challenges and that it was a privilege and a great responsibility to preach the Kingship of Jesus into this context.  It was deeply moving to share in the session and the following time of prayer for the progress of the gospel in Sri Lanka.

Humbling and inspiring

I said to one of the participants, “Since Sri Lanka faces so many social challenges, do you think that this training in preaching is useful to you?” He broke into a broad grin, and I felt somewhat rebuked by his unhesitating response, “It makes all the difference in the world, because the Word of God is our life!”

The week I spent with Sri Lankan brothers and sisters in Christ was humbling and inspiring.  I was surprised by, and unaware of, the extent of harassment of Christians in the regional areas. But one denominational leader said to us, ‘We have more important things to worry about than those who oppose us.’  It was a joy to meet faithful young pastors, leading modest Christian fellowships; marginal in many ways,  but full of trust and hope in Christ and eager to serve the least in their communities and preach ‘the pure word of God’.  It was deeply encouraging.

Rev Kanishka Raffel and participants of a preaching seminar in Sri Lanka last year.

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