Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vine...
Yet I will exult in the Lord...
The Lord God is my strength"
Habbakuk's words come to us as a rebuke and an exhortation, to always exult in the Lord through the
good and bad times. Certainly there have been both since we last shared news with you in December.
Last week Sri Lanka's worst floods in 50 years robbed thousands of their homes, loved ones and
livelihood. The response from the international community has been prompt and generous, yet one
Sunday newspaper reported `those who have suffered much are receiving little or nothing due to political
interference and poor management of relief by the government'.
Pray that aid, food, shelter and medical assistance would reach all those in need.
The 15-month-old peace talks are presently stalled after the LTTE withdrew alleging that the government
is not fulfilling LTTE's demands for a major controlling role in the proposed NE interim government.
However for any peace talks to succeed the two sides must be sincere, yet the Sri Lankan public are
growing increasingly skeptical about LTTE's sincerity. It's armed cadres numbered 7,500 before the
ceasefire, yet they now number 19,000; the forcible recruitment of children has continued and been widely
publicized; recently there has been a disturbing number of assassinations of Tamil political rivals of
LTTE; the extortion of businessmen and the general public in many NE areas has continued unabated.
Pray for sincerity, honesty and openness so that a true and lasting peace agreement may be reached
between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE
All our ten new fulltime students this year have been sent by their churches, 6 in January and a further 4
in May. We hope to put their photos on our website soon, so you can put faces to names!
Pratheepan (19) from Valachenai, north of Batticaloa, was sent by one of our first regular students, Pastor
Jesudasan. His first month at BTC was not easy for just as the rest of the college family were happily
celebrating BTC's third anniversary on January 31st, he received the sudden news that his father had
committed suicide. His mother had been just preparing to leave for employment in the Middle East to help
the family's desperate financial state. Compounding his sadness, Pratheepan was urged not to attend the
funeral with his mother and 4 younger siblings since the area was under LTTE control and they were
demanding one child from each family in the locality, with Pratheepan as the likely candidate. Very
thankfully Pratheepan and his family have come through this tough time, two of his siblings are staying in
Pastor Bala's home here in Trinco, while his mother and the other two are staying with their
grandmother. Their financial situation is still desperate, an added concern for Pratheepan as he now
assumes responsibility for the family.
Please pray for Pratheepan and his family, that they will be provided for and Pratheepan can continue his
studies with peace of mind.
Three of the new students are from the central hill country, George (25) is from Pussellawa, while
Anthony (21) and his cousin, Augustine (18), are from Diyagama. Like Pratheepan, Anthony has been in
the midst of painful troubles in his family with his father, who is also a Christian, embroiled in a trumped
up murder charge. The court case has been postponed a number of times already.
Pray that justice would prevail and Anthony's father would be cleared.
Pastor Balanathan (46) from Uppuveli just north of Trinco, has taken a number of courses since BTC
opened in 2000, but decided to take the plunge in January and become a fulltime student. After seeing the
desperate state of many children during his pastoral visits in the Trinco area, he has also taken the plunge
at home, expanding his family from 5 to 20 despite the sparseness of his basic 3 bedroomed house. With
the help of Gunalan, a successful businessman, he hopes to move into a larger place in the near future.
There is a desperate need for such homes as the on going situation in the country has left many children
bereft one or both parents, a home and livelihood. Bala's home was a real provision for Pratheepan's
family as two of his siblings joined his `family'. Bala and his wife have a huge task and responsibility, yet
they are taking it in their stride, trusting the Lord to provide for all the needs of their growing family.
Pray for Bala in his vastly increased responsibilities, that all their physical needs would be provided for
and his studies would help him supply for all the spiritual needs of his household.
Pastor Bala also expanded BTC's family introducing Sathiyarupen (28) as a fulltime student in May.
Providentially, Sathiyarupen had already met the Hoole family when they gave him a lift on their return
journey from Jaffna in December. Another local person, Ranjith (25), from Grace Fellowship Church,
joined BTC in January.
Pray for Sathiyarupen and Ranjith as they both study and continue their responsibilities in their local
Suhanty (24) came to us in January from the Methodist girl's home in Kalmunai, run by Pastor
Thayaseelan, a member of our Advisory Board. He is keen for her to take on more responsibility in the
home after her studies. In May, Jeniphet (20), also a Methodist, from Colombo and Sathiyavani (17) from
Sixth Mile Post north of Trinco, joined us bringing our ladies hostel to a full compliment of 5.
Pray for all our ladies in the hostel, Suhanty, Jeniphet, Sathiyavani, Sudharsini and Celin, that they would
all learn and grow from their studies and living together.
We heard more wedding bells in February, when Ramesh married Theeba, a local girl from Sixth Mile
Post, a newly settled area following the MOU (Peace Agreement), in February 2001. Ramesh has
subsequently moved into the area and is in the process of planting a church and building a home for his
new family. BTC students have helped out, spending a number of Saturdays leveling the ground,
preparing the foundations and building walls for the new church/home. It is a venture of faith not just for
Ramesh, but also for many in the BTC family. Sathiyavani comes from their new church.
Pray for Ramesh and Theeba as they build their house and home together, and for the new church.
Pastor Masilamani, who taught a modular course in 2002, has returned as a regular part-time faculty
member, traveling from Colombo to teach 2 courses each week. Priya Handy continues to be as busy as
ever but manages teach 2 courses a term by coming once a fortnight from Colombo. He is hoping to go to
the Aberyswyth Conference in August.
Pray for Masilamani and Priya, their families, traveling and teaching.
We had the joy of welcoming Pastor Philip Wells of Calvary Evangelical Church, Brighton, UK in
November. He opened the students' eyes to many new insights as he taught the book of Mark; they are
sincerely hoping that he will come again soon! Pastor Martin Lloyd of Rhuddlan Evangelical Church has
become a close friend of many here, having visited us twice in the last two years; we are hoping that he
will come again this year! Mrs. Ann Williams, from his church has very kindly taken over the
responsibility of coordinating funds from UK. Thank you to Suresh who had been carrying the
responsibility for the past year. We also give our thanks to Bill Armerding, of OCI, Canada, as he retires.
He has been part of our family and has given us invaluable service. Dr. Gordon Smith is taking over his
responsibilities in OCI, Canada.
Give thanks for all the encouragement we received through Pastor Phil, Pastor Martin, Ann Williams and
Our finances have been in a state of flux as one of our major donor partners has cut back on funding while
another, who financed our library, did not award us a grant for 2003. We are very thankful to a number of
individuals and churches who have continued supporting us so faithfully and sacrificially during this lean
time, particularly New Horizon URC in Scarborough, Canada; Canyon Covenant Church in Oregon, USA
and Every Nation Gospel Fellowship in Southall, UK.
Pray for our financial situation to improve and particularly the need of finances for our library.
Thank you for upholding BTC in your prayers and having a part in the lives of our students as we prepare
them for service in God's kingdom.