Living here is a daily challenge in many ways, because the country has been torn apart by civil war for over 20 years; the tsunami of 2004 added to the desperate plight of the people. Inflation is very high; in 2007 the cost of living increased by nearly 17%; interest rates on home loans are around 48% and rising. Unemployment is very high and the general infrastructure of the country is rapidly deteriorating into a state of near irredeemable chaos. It is a third world country that is like a child, reaching to pull itself onto the table for a glimpse between its knuckles of what it perceives is desirable to have at any cost, yet knowing it cannot afford.
Our week starts at 6am on Sunday morning, when Ruth rises to make the assortment of Sri Lankan curries for the afternoon lunch. At 9am students start to arrive for Sunday School and at 9:30 Sunday School starts, while Tim goes to an AOG breakaway church to deliver a first principles lesson. On returning to the mission house at 10:45 for the memorial meeting, the brothers and sisters and contacts are greeted and seated for the 11am memorial service. After the memorial meeting everyone stays to enjoy the curries and rice; then, at about 1:30pm this is cleared away and the afternoon program begins. Upstairs the Youth Class is led by the three Moore children (now only Pete for 2008), and downstairs the Bible Class. Each week the class alternates between a combined class on Revelation and a sister’s class on Women of the Bible, and the Commandments of Christ for the brethren. The brothers and sisters are encouraged to research material and contribute to the class. At around 3:30 people pile into the ACBM van and are taken home, as the bus services are not generally available at this time on Sundays. At the last drop, at around 5:30-6pm, another class is held, this time a first principles class for baptism. We return home around 10:30 to 11pm.
Monday morning sees a Bible class with a brother, whom we are trying to restore to fellowship, and his wife who is very interested and has expressed interest in baptism, and their 11 year old daughter who is doing very well in Sunday School. First Principles classes are held every Tuesday, Wednesday (including Sunday School); Thursday (2 classes) Friday (including Sunday school). Travelling to and from these classes is time consuming and dangerous due to road, traffic and weather conditions. Every alternate Saturday we travel to a village south of Colombo to hold a class with a sister and her husband who is starting to learn the Truth. The second Saturday we hold seminars on a wide range of subjects, and these are lively and interactive days.
Each fully moon there is a Buddhist holiday called Poya day. On these days we hold a Bible Truth Study day and 30to 60 people attend. Three separate studies are held starting at 10am and the day finishes at 3:30pm; Ruth cooks the curry and rice for all the visitors for the mid-day meal. These are fully interactive days with many questions and discussions around the Scriptures.
A year of this work has reinforced the absolute necessity of solid instruction in first principles. There is no alternative to individuals learning to express their faith and belief in Scriptural terms. This is the only way we can avoid the many doctrinal pitfalls and spread the true gospel amongst their peers. A profession of knowledge is common, a confession of faith is frequent, but true repentance and conversion of faith is rare in this country. A local put it to us like this: “In this country we change our clothes, schools, houses, even our churches and beliefs, but we don’t change”. This attitude makes preaching a real challenge when people show some interest. Very often there is an ulterior motive – financial support, education or immigration opportunities, social standing amongst neighbours, etc. One of the ways to filter this out is to ensure Scriptural instruction is thorough over an extended period of time, as few will endure this process and many drop out as they realize that their objectives are not going to be met.
Many ask us, “How do you cope? Aren’t you frightened of the war, bombings, etc?” After driving about 20,000km around the country and visiting many people – without incident – we can truly say that God has looked after us. The local brothers and sisters have a deep love for the Truth and are developing that relationship with their God that we so often talk about but too rarely implement on our own lives. We have discovered that with God all things are possible and that perfect loves casts out fear. Being far from perfect, we do have our moments of concern but very rarely nowadays.
There is a need for fieldworkers to visit and do follow up work with many of our contacts. Those who came in 2007 all left feeling richly blessed to have shared this labour of love. If you have a burning love of the Truth and a desire to share it, please come to Sri Lanka and help us.
– Bro Tim Moore, Lampstand Magazine