Thursday, January 9, 2014

A New Welcome / A New New Year / A New Perspective / Sri Lanka

The last time I saw Susiri, was at an International Board meeting in Gudalar, India in 2005.  I was serving on the Board of Medic International and had joined him and the rest of the board for a meeting in Southern India.  Susiri is the director of Medic Lanka.  It was at that time that I felt a kindred spirit with Susiri and his love for the Lord.  He asked me to come and visit Sri Lanka on many occasions.  I stepped down from my board responsibilities a year later and stayed in sparatic contact with Susiri -- still he would say -- Come to Sri Lanka.  But it was just not the time -- my hearts desire has been to always go.  Well, God in his wisdom chose that this year would be the year I would get to come.  When I emailed him and told him I was going to be in India and in Thailand -- I knew it was in the region -- he prayed about it and said, yes please come.  He had heard the ministry I was involved with and knew that it was something that Sri Lanka needed to focus on -- even though -- no church had every publicly addressed the issue of Homosexuality.  So he was paving new ground and being very courageous.  Sri Lanka has gone through much turmoil over the years and only recently has been walking in a measure of freedom from the civil war that has taken place and where much blood has been shed.

I arrived on Dec. 30th and was blessed by him to stay for a couple days at the beach at a really nice hotel.  He knew I had been traveling extensively and was probably tired, so he felt I should just relax

for a couple days -- I certainly did -- and the place was wonderful.  My view out the back was of some trees and beyond that the ocean -- when you walked outside you would go through those trees and step out onto the sand that would lead directly to the ocean.  A gift from God for sure.

I slept in the next morning and took a walk on the beach and did some reading -- a welcome retreat after 6 weeks of being on the move.  The next evening was the new years eve service and I was going to bring the word at Smyrna Christian Church in Watalla, Sri Lanka.  Watalla is about 15 minutes south of Columbo.  Susiri told me that I would be with them from 9:00pm when it started until 1:30 or 2:00am when it was finished.  So we headed down to the church and got prepared and then the official meeting started at 10:00pm with praise and worship.  I was told that we would continue to worship and hear testimonies up until 11:45pm at which time I would start my message.  I was to speak for 14 minutes and that just before midnight -- I would stop and then we would worship until about 12:15am when the fireworks stopped -- then I would pick up where I left off and continue the message -- a new approach -- but there you go!  So that is just what I did -- and then we ended with a time of communion.

I will say it was a bit of a trip trying to worship with big fireworks going off in the background -- and because it was hot- - the back doors of the church were opened -- so the sound was really coming in -- for me -- also, there was intermittent explosions -- throughout the rest of my sermon -- a new level of concentration efforts!
John Speaking at Smyrna Christian Church in Watalla

I am not exactly sure if there was as much power in my sermon as there was in the explosions -- but I gave it my best.  I spoke out of Luke 24 and we took a look at walking in faith and not getting caught up in the major life events in our lives.

After a trip to the roof for refreshments and a time of fellowship -- we slowly wrapped up and headed for home -- for me, back to the hotel, where I would sleep and catch up the following day before we started for the conference center where the workshop was to take place.  The next few days would be very full days -- so I was grateful to take some time to be with the Lord, to get refreshed and to get ready for the Homosexuality, The Church & You workshop -- the first ever in Sri Lanka!  

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