From Coquitlam to Sri Lanka
Gospel and Mission Series from Missonsfest
by Sandra Crawford
When our newly formed Missions Committee announced the destination for our spring trip, Sri Lanka was an interesting and exciting prospect. However, for a mere ten days (seven days on the ground) it seemed a long way to go, considering travel time, jet lag and cost. Most would agree. In fact, in a recent poll the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada reported that most short term missions trips are two weeks or less and are made closer to home. So why consider a nation more than 13,000km away, that in 2009 was steeped in violence between the Sinhalese ethnic group and Tamil Tiger rebels, and up until 2015 was a nation heavily influenced by Buddhist extremists who placed targets squarely upon the backs of Christians? Our church’s long-established relationship with a Sri Lankan pastor, family roots connecting us to the nation, and a heart of compassion for the poor and vulnerable all contributed to the conclusion that God was saying it was time – His Kairos time for us to go to the nation of Sri Lanka.
Under the leadership of Pastor Lina Gabeli of Westwood Community Church, eight adults and two children set off on a whirlwind mission to unite with the Good News Central Church in Kandy, Sri Lanka, hosted by Pastor Pradeep Perera. In preparation for the trip, the team, along with leaders and elders in each church, spent time prayerfully considering the needs of the people.
In light of our individual giftings, we developed a framework outlining the daily schedule with projects and tasks for each team member. After learning about Sri Lankan time, our plans were generally followed by the disclaimer “subject to change by the Holy Spirit!”
We began each day in our bungalow with a team member leading us in a devotional, followed by a time of prayer and intercession waiting upon the Lord. The very clear theme for the week was “breakthrough.” We hit the ground running and poured out all that we had, serving the main congregation in Kandy, as well as two church plants – one in a local village, another in mountainous tea plantations. In addition to regular church meetings, we held a bible study, ministered to the women’s group and farmers, visited two orphanages, shared many testimonies, visited individuals in their homes, felt the prompting to pray for the sick and saw them healed. Pastor Pradeep reported that one of the satellite churches, “will never be the same again, it has been lit by the fire of God’s love.” It was pure joy to witness the power of the Holy Spirit moving upon people so hungry for more of His presence – people who have endured such hardship; a nation that has for years, been oppressed by a strong Buddhist influence and poverty. It was as though they had cried out for the rock to deliver more water and the fountain did not disappoint. Before our very eyes, a church was being revived, and in the heart of one man, God was unlocking his destiny.
Pastor Pradeep Perera’s cousin, Dilhan Perera, was instrumental in arranging this mission from Canada. A successful businessman in Canada, his priority had always been his profession, faithfully working to support his family. Yet he could not escape the heart of compassion he had for the nation he left nearly 25 years ago. Over the years when visiting Sri Lanka as a family, they would always make time to visit orphanages and help the poor. His wife Marietta, daughters Keanna (12) and Breanna (10) joined him on this mission that in his own words was “the most rewarding trip” he’s ever taken.
From his first morning in Kandy, he later shared, the Holy Spirit began speaking to Him in such a profound way. While the house was quiet he had felt led to shut himself in a room and began to worship the Lord. Coincidentally, it was the same room his uncle (Pradeep’s father, a devoted man of prayer) used to retreat to when meeting with God. Four days later, during our morning devotional time, he had a revelation of the prophetic words his cousin had always said over him; that his calling is much larger than the marketplace, he is called to the nations.
The words resonated with him as truth and for the first time he was able to fully embrace what the Lord has been preparing him for. We witnessed a pivotal moment in Dilhan’s life as he realized the Godly legacy established by the Perera family that has gone before him, and his call to pick up the baton and run for this generation.
The success of our mission can be attributed to four factors: prayerful discernment before embarking upon our journey, unity amongst the team, well-established relationship with the hosting nation and most importantly, God’s perfect timing.
Canada is known as a mosaic of cultures and nations. We have often heard it prophesied that the inheritance of many believers will be the harvest they reap in their homeland; that many will return carrying the good news of the Gospel. The Word tells us that God establishes us in the place we should live. He divinely connects us with people, deposits a love in our heart for the nation of our heritage, and in the fullness of time, He will give us a revelation of His divine purpose for our lives.
Missions Fest Vancouver is an organization dedicated to supporting the local church in their efforts to become more missional. Learn more at: www.missionsfestvancouver.ca