In the year 2000 the saints from Taiwan for the first time held a three-day residential conference, mainly for pastors, during which time a wide variety of ministry books was exhibited at the venue. One of the pastors who took a real interest in these books continued reading them. This brother was so impressed with the ministry truths that he used them for his congregation, and several fellowship meetings in that city were set up. As a result, his congregation swelled to about three times the number. Eventually, this brother, also being convicted and enlightened by the truths of this ministry, was graced to take a bold stand for the Lord’s recovery. This was the beginning of the Lord’s recovery in Sri Lanka.
The first local church was established in the year 2003 in Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka. A faithful couple whom the Lord had gained at this time was used by Him to go around the city to place the ministry books in English in bookshops in various cities. They also handled the Rhema distribution work in collaboration with India. The feedback was not significant as only about 23.8 per cent speak English.
As the churches began to expand in Sri Lanka, the need for the ministry books to be translated to Sinhala began to be felt deeply. The official languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhala, Tamil, and English, the last of these being widely used for education, scientific, and commercial purposes. Since ministry materials in Tamil were available from India, our burden was to translate them into Sinhala, which is spoken by 70% of the population. However, it was not until 2012 that the Lord gave us a sister as an additional translator, not to mention her gracious family being supportive of her commitment because of much prayer and petition. This sister, proficient in both Sinhala and English, took a deep interest in the ministry books. Coming from a Christian denomination and prior to that from a Buddhist background and having authored several books on Buddhism, she was very much enlightened by the content of the books, and within relatively a short period of time, the seven Rhema-distributed books (Basic Elements of the Christian Life, Vols. 1, 2, 3, The All-inclusive Christ, The Economy of God, The Knowledge of Life, and The Glorious Church) were translated into Sinhala in coordination with the Rhema serving ones of both USA and India.
Subsequently, we were able to print 200 copies of each of the seven Rhema books for the benefit of the Sinhala-speaking saints spread throughout the local churches for their enjoyment and edification. This also helped develop the reading habit of the saints, who were more acquainted with merely listening to preachers than receiving enlightenment of the word through prayer and study.
Then, beginning in June last year, with the help of Rhema co-workers serving in the United States and India and by the grace of God, we ventured into advertising the Sinhala Rhema-distributed books online. As a result, it took no longer than half a year for us to find that 45,721 readers have browsed our online page and that from among them thirty had expressed their great appreciation of our page, while 1,413 posted their comments. Many of these were negative partly because Sri Lanka is predominantly a Buddhist country. (But it is not without religious tolerance altogether.) However, what is very encouraging to us is that 2,651 people furnished complete information to us and were willing to subscribe to our publications. In February 2021 we also received from India a thousand copies of the first volume in Tamil of the Rhema-distributed books, of which two hundred copies were distributed among the saints.
The readers of these booklets are quick to apprehend the basic and essential truths presented in them because of their simplicity and appealing nature.
After having completed the Rhema-distributed books, we next went on to translate some of the Life-study material into Sinhala, such as all four volumes of Life-Study of John and the first volume of the Life-study of Luke. In addition, we were also able to produce an audiobook of the Gospel of John. All of these in turn immensely contributed not only to the enrichment of the enjoyment of the saints in weekly meetings, etc., but also to the applying of the truths in their daily Christian living to strengthen their corporate testimony unto the building up of the Body of Christ, which is God’s heart desire in this age.
Titles such as The Orthodoxy of Church; The Specialty, Generality and Practicality of Church Life; The Elders Management of the Church; and The Holy Word for Morning Revival: Material Offerings and the Lord’s Move Today have been translated into Sinhala and are used as material for various trainings held as timely help to the saints. Furthermore, other ministry material like Prophesying for the Building up of the Church and A Pattern of the Healthy Words (consisting of 96 lessons) were also translated into Sinhala for use as material for shepherding, which the saints appreciate very much. In consideration of the new believers and outreach for gospel contacts, a number of other titles were likewise translated. The readers of these booklets are quick to apprehend the basic and essential truths presented in them because of their simplicity and appealing nature. Life Lessons, Vols. 1—4, have also been translated and used in local conferences, and every local church here enjoys them fully. Recently a group of local churches in one region expressed their willingness to pursue them all over again for the benefit of the new ones. Our work on the Life-study First and Second Samuel is also in progress as with other numerous ministry materials required in trainings for young people, sisters, and other groups of saints among us. We are also now blessed with two saints who are serving part-time in translating the ministry books and message outlines for various trainings and five more saints translating The Holy Word for Morning Revival for weekly distribution.
We have also translated 240 hymns into Sinhala and have printed them in two small books so that all the saints in every local church in Sri Lanka can possess them. The saints here love singing the rich contents of those unparalleled hymns in their meetings, especially by pray-singing them and by musing on them in their personal times with the Lord. The inspiration, joy, and strength that we can draw from them are boundless and are like the rivers of the water of life. To complement the hymn singing for the benefit of the saints, one hundred fifty of those songs have been recorded and are available in digital format.
Thus, thanks to this ministry, the churches can now endeavor to engage in their threefold responsibility of perfecting the saints, of enabling them to function, and of preaching the gospel to sinners so that they may become a proper testimony to Christ.
Finally, we are indeed joyful and indebtedly thankful to the Lord for having graced us with boldness to undertake the serious and extremely difficult task of translating the New Testament Recovery Version into Sinhala. We are thankful to LSM for their tireless and enduring support in love to help us in this, beginning with training three saints in a one-year Greek course to equip them with the required competency. This half-decade or so project was joyfully launched on May 1, 2021. In the meantime, the Lord provided another brother for the typesetting work. He too underwent a short course in India conducted by LSM there. Therefore, we are all the more joyful that the Gospel of Matthew is now nearly ready to be printed as a provisional publication as a foretaste for the saints eagerly awaiting it. The translation and proofreading of the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John, and the book of Acts, including the verses, the footnotes, and the outlines, have been completed. We are blessed with three dedicated saints serving full-time on the translation of the Sinhala New Testament Recovery Version. We pray that the Sovereign Lord will preserve their spirit, soul, and body in this work. We ask the saints everywhere to join us in this prayer not only for the Sinhala New Testament Recovery Version but also for all the literature work in Sri Lanka unto the praise of the glory of His grace in His economy here and unto eternity.
At present we have nearly 22 local churches spread throughout the northern, eastern, north central, central and western regions of Sri Lanka and if God is willing three more churches are likely to be established shortly within these regions. The Tamil speaking saints of the northern and eastern regions benefit immensely from the translated ministry material available from India. In this respect, we thank the Lord for their contribution through translated ministry material. The Tamil-speaking saints in these churches are now eagerly waiting to receive the printed Tamil New Testament Recovery Version due next month. Saints will certainly be blessed and be duly fed and nourished with its unique footnotes to the same degree the English-speaking saints now enjoy. The quality of church life will assuredly be increased and thereby the testimony also strengthened. The saints treasure the preciousness of the footnotes and the outlines of the Recovery Version with the further help of the life study series without which the Word of God cannot be fully enjoyed with joy unspeakable full of glory much the same way that the Ethiopian eunuch glorified God after Philip explained to him the portion in Isaiah the latter was struggling to understand.
The majority of the Sinhala-speaking saints in the local churches spread throughout the rest of the regions, also in like manner, enjoy the translated ministry material despite limited resources of translated material. They heavily depend on co-workers constituted with the truths to minister to them according to the ministry of this age. Nevertheless, we endeavor by the grace of God, to bring home to the saints, the riches of Christ, for their enjoyment by giving them the truths of the ministry through conferences, online or physical, held at least three times every month for all the churches in Sri Lanka. They enjoy the enlightenment of these truths to such an extent that recently nearly all the responsible brothers from distant areas gathered for such a meeting in a remote village despite severe transportation turmoil prevailing throughout the country for lack of availability of petrol or diesel to run even a motorcycle. Some sisters also in the meantime willingly came there, and prepared a very rich meal notwithstanding the rising cost and short supply of food items. Furthermore, the sisters themselves on their own requested to participate to enjoy such a meeting in the afternoon. They said that they had never heard these truths while they were in their former Christian communities. They sighed in relief when they hear the truths of this ministry, but when they practice these truths they also face opposition and persecution amidst joy on behalf of His testimony.
The majority who are Sinhala-speaking saints are now eagerly awaiting the day when they will possess a copy of the New Testament Recovery Version in Sinhala. Despite translation work being steadily in progress, they may have to endure probably about three more years before they receive a copy of their own. However, as a foretaste, the book of Matthew will soon be printed as a provisional publication, which will bring much joy to them. May the Lord bless, preserve, and bountifully grace the good work of the LSM Literature ministry among other services and the laboring saints, for building up the body of Christ, for His good pleasure. We thank and praise the Lord for this unto His eternal glory.
We ask the saints everywhere to join us in this prayer not only for the Sinhala New Testament Recovery Version but also for all the literature work in Sri Lanka unto the praise of the glory of His grace in His economy here and unto eternity.