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of Faith


June 2000 - State of Emergency, Pastor's Conference, Student Arrested

News Updates Index

June 6, 2000

Dear Friends,

Since our last update the country has plunged deeper into crisis with the government declaring a nationwide State of Emergency. All news pertaining to the 'crisis' is now censored with the result that people know very little about what is really going on in the north. We are very concerned about all the people affected by the crisis, especially the civilians trapped in the midst of it, in Jaffna. In other parts of the Northeast, people fear the consequences of Jaffna falling, expecting that the crisis will then quickly spread to their area. All the signs indicate a long and protracted situation that shows no signs of being resolved.

Pastors and Leaders gather together
The pastors of Grace Evangelical Church in Colombo, Brian, Suresh and Ajit, played a key role in facilitating a conference in Trinco last week, which brought together Reformed pastors and teachers from around the island. Peter Cresswell of Yatton, UK, and Trevor Smetham, of Clevedon, UK, addressed the conference covering many topics including the life of a minister as a prophet and shepherd of God. The participants, numbering about 20-25, were greatly stimulated and edified. Charles, Nepoleon and Pradhapan had the privilege of attending the conference as their teaching schedules allowed and found Peter's similarity to Francis Schaffer in having a desire to engage and interact with those who hold to a different theological position was particularly stimulating and heartening. Jothy Hoole also contributed by giving a talk on Puritan devotional life. Interestingly a local AOG pastor who attended the session was so enthused that he subsequently enquired about English Puritan literature, and hopes to visit the BTC library.

Not only were the talks profitable, but also the many more informal discussions and personal counseling amongst the participants, bringing together a real fellowship amongst the Reformed constituency in Sri Lanka. Everyone was eager for Peter and Trevor to return and continue this ministry they have begun.

Special Visitors
It was a special privilege for BTC to host a number of the participants on a short visit during the conference. Charles, Nepoleon and Jaqui shared about different aspects of college life. It became clear to all how God has so providentially brought BTC into being against all odds. Peter and Trevor were particularly interested and visited the Hooles and the hostel after the conference, sharing very rich, warm and precious fellowship.

Selvaraj and Jancy
Pastor Selvaraj, from Grace and Truth Church, on Mannar mainland, also attended the conference, bringing along his wife, Jancy, who comes from Trinco, and his two children. He is still very keen to come and study at BTC, but his church responsibilities make it impossible at the present time. He is endeavouring to train someone to take over much of the church responsibilities. Please pray that he will be able to start in January.

BTC visits Mannar
Grace and Truth Fellowship, Pradhapan and Jeyamary's church in Mannar town, have invited Nepoleon and Charles to speak at their Church Family camp in August. It is good to see links and fellowship growing with the Reformed churches in other parts of the country. During the visit, they will also have an opportunity to speak to an inter-church pastors' fellowship.

Extension Programme in Batticaloa
BTC had already identified Batticaloa as an important base for extension education. Having spoken to Rev. Thayaseelan, one of our advisors and an Area Supervisor of the Methodist church, he invited BTC to hold a 3-day seminar for Christian leaders in the Batticaloa and Ampara districts, using the extensive facilities of his church in Kalmunai. We hope that this will prepare the ground for further extension programmes in Batticaloa and the surrounding area.

The Reality of Life
One of our full-time students, Sivakumar, from the hill country, did not return after the April break. We were concerned since all efforts to contact him were met with silence. Thankfully, after 3 weeks we had a phone call and as we had suspected, he had been through a hard time. Having taken his wife away from Mutur, to get away from the LTTE, he found himself accused of supporting the LTTE by the Nuwara Eliya Police. As is the custom for all Tamils on arriving in a new place to stay or live, he went with his wife and child to the Nuwara Eliya Police Station to register her presence in the area. (She was going to stay there with his parents while he made the final arrangements for his house in Hatton) He was immediately accused of being an LTTE supporter and, in front of his wife, was assaulted by the police and then detained in jail. He has just been released after two weeks inside. This episode is an indication of what it is like to be a Tamil, particularly a plantation Tamil (from the tea and rubber estates) in this country, life is always precarious and insecure. Please pray for him and his wife and child as they recover from this ordeal and try to rebuild their lives again and continue the ministry God has given them in Hatton.

Sritharan and Velu, different experiences
We were expecting two new full-time students this term. Sritharan, from Trinco, has joined us and settled in well, forming good relationships with the other students. His presence is already enriching BTC community life, reminding us of how much we can learn from each other. However, Velu, from a refugee camp, north of Vavuniya, has not yet arrived.

Thank you for your prayers,


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