Sri Lanka trip August 2005:
Teen, Family, and Kids Camp
Pastor Jey from Mississauga Tamil lead a team for the first Teen Camp. 49 teens attended this camp the weekend before family camp. The family camp saw 15 families. This totaled about 50 teens and adults. The Women’s Ministries of Eastern Ontario donated $4000 for the Family Camp. Colleen Zavrel, of Whitby FMC (, Ontario ) lead the children’s program for about 13 kids. Ruby Gomez and Sylvia Galloway from Wesley Chapel, ( Toronto , one of the partner churches in Sri Lanka ) worked tirelessly together to provide a great program.

Repairs:
Eustice Galloway from Wesley Chapel repaired the very leaky roof at the ministry centre in Colombo . He taught some quick learning and skilled local laborers how to do it and they finished it themselves.

New Partners:
Darryl Dozlaw, from Northview , ( Regina , Sask ) taught discipleship at the family camp and surveyed the early attempts at rebuilding Batticoloa (eastern shore, where the Tsunami hit the hardest.) Northview Community church is becoming a partner in Sri Lanka . Darryl, Pastor Jey and Supt Lazarus from Colombo talked for some time with a local man (see picture links) who had escaped the Tsunami. He was discouraged by the empty promises made by well meaning people in the early days after the tragedy.

BOA and Mission District Meeting, plus God surprises.

Surprise 1: Pastor Ben Gomez of Wesley Chapel and Pastor Jey, did some excellent conflict resolution work before the start of the BOA meetings. This put off the BOA nearly half a day from starting but was crucial to harmony prevailing in the meeting. Praise be to God.

Surprise 2: The BOA didn’t get started on time. So, I had time on my hands to sit and wait in the 30+C heat. Not bad if you are sitting still. God turned this into a surprise gift of conversation with some Sri Lankan brothers. Language barriers only slowed the conversation, not prevented it. The pastor said, “I have to climb up the mountain of the tea plantation to see some of my people. It takes a long lime to get there. Hard walk…up. I witness …they…no Bible…can’t read. I read to them … we talk about it…. It takes time.”

I realized one reason why planting churches in Sri Lanka (SL) is a different challenge: Many times the people are illiterate. Maybe this is a future ministry in SL, overcoming illiteracy.

The Growth Report at Mission District: Last year at the 2004 Mission District meeting we had 8 pastors who were ordained in or transferred their credentials to the FMC SL. One pastor is gone. We anticipated this, regretfully. (Money was more important than resourcing and fellowship.)

At this 2005 Mission District meeting we had 9 pastors, by ordaining two more this year. There were 5 invited guests, pastors who will have their first interview with the BOA/MEG of the FMC SL in February 2006.

This Mission District Meeting 2005 hit me only after the gathering was over. God is doing a great thing! Each pastor reported his/her churches, new plants, and the assistant pastors (AP) working in church plants with them. AP’s are with the pastors daily, without pay or bi-vocational.

The FMC in Sri Lanka as of August, 2005
9 pastors in the FMC Sri Lanka
5 assistant pastors (AP) work with these 9 pastors
4 of the 5 APs are Ministerial Candidates (MC)
These 9 pastors and 5 APs account for 23 churches and church plants
Largest single church attendance: 150
Smallest single church plant is 6
The hostile environment in Sri Lanka to Christianity will keep many churches small, though numerous

The FMC in Sri Lanka potentially in 2006, who attended the Family Camp
5 new pastors
8 new APs working under these 5 new pastors
These 5 pastors and 8 APs account for 16 churches and church plants
Largest church 125 (peak attendance was 175)
Smallest church plant is two families (6-10) with children

The potential by the end of 2007 could be:
More than 39 Churches and plants
More than 15 ordained pastors
More than 13 assistant pastors tracking for ordination

The BOA has set a vision for the FMC of Sri Lanka
The Lord being our helper, we will work toward these faith goals until our Mission District meeting in August 2006:

That 50 new churches will be added to our fellowship
That 50 new pastors will be added to our fellowship
That each church will gain 10 new families

Pray that God blesses their difficult work beyond their wildest dreams

Alan Retzman is Director of Personnel for The Free Methodist Church in Canada.