E X A M I N I N G   C H R I S T I A N   E V A N G E L I S M   I N   S R I   L A N K A   A N D   S O U T H   A S I A

Welcome to FOCUS - a website that examines Christian evangelism in South Asia, with a particular focus on Sri Lanka. This website was created to function as a forum where people of all religious persuasions can communicate with each other over the issue of evangelism. This website also provides exposure to both Buddhist and Hindu viewpoints on the issue of evangelism, which have not been given adequate exposure in the media. Your participation is most welcomed.

As this website deals with issues that may be of a controversial nature, we encourage participants and readers to approach the issues with objectivity and consideration for a diversity of views. Please understand that the articles presented on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of FOCUS. As Mr Frawley says, "conversion has always been a topic that arouses, if not inflames, our human emotions." Keeping that in mind, we must do all we can to maintain religious harmony in Sri Lanka and the greater South Asian region, as well as the world. Dialogue is a great way to do this.
                                                                                                                                                         

What is the motivation behind conversion activities? Why should one person want to convert another to his or her religious belief? -- Peter Frawley, The Missionary Position
 
 
I was born and brought-up a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is an
Avatar of Love, and that now more than ever, specially after the 11th
September terrorist attacks on America, we need his message of
compassion, charity and kindness for one another.

-- Francis Gautier
.
 
KEY:  pro-evangelist letters  replies
   
 
The Business of Conversion
Evangelists of Christian Fellowship Church Ministries at work in Wallasmulla and Matugama, predominantly Buddhist towns.
.

 

 
Behind Fundamentalism
“Fundamentalism seeks to destroy competing beliefs. Fundamentalist Christians believe that all other religions of the world are attempts by Satan at deceiving humanity. This belief is pervasive and resistant to logic or reason; all attempts at reconciliation have met with failure....Fundamentalism also seeks to reproduce itself in others; and, in so doing, it behaves like a virus. In the realm of cytomolecular biology, a virus is a particle designed to replicate itself at the expense of a host cell. A virus introduces its DNA or RNA into a target cell; this genetic instruction set overrides the cell's inherant self-maintaining DNA and causes the cell instead to create new viruses. In the realm of human consciousness, Fundamentalism in essence does the same thing. A Fundamentalist Christian believes his or her overriding purpose in life is to "save souls," and that all other goals in life are trivial by comparison. That person is therefore motivated to convince others to adopt the same belief, complete with the self-replicating notion that the belief must be passed on."   >>


   
Unethical conversions by Christians

 

It is sad that Christians are unjustly accused of converting non-Christians to Christianity unethically. Conversion to Christianity is not the work of man but of God.
 

 
Unethical conversions by Christians - a response (1)
Unethical conversions by Christians - a response (2)

 

 
Threat of religious strife
 

I wonder how many realize that there is a threat of religious strife as seen from the many recent attacks on the Christian community in Sri Lanka.
 

 
Threat of religious strife - a response (1)

Threat of religious strife - a response (2)


   
Religious conversions and human rights
  My attention has been drawn to the many news items and readers' letters that have appeared in your newspaper and in other periodicals on this subject. Perhaps, my thoughts will shed some light on this important subject.
 
 
Religious conversions and human rights - a response (1)
Religious conversions and human rights - a response (2)

Religious conversions and human rights - a response (3)

   
   
Opposing unethical conversions is not religious intolerance
  What the colonialists did by branding the sword and the use of brutal force then, their agents today are repeating with the use of financial resources targeting poor Buddhists and Hindus.
   
Missionary activity contributes to social tension
  In the 1960s Mrs Bandaranayake asked the Irish Nursing Nuns to leave the country. This was because, despite their selfless nursing, they insisted on baptising dying patients irrespective of their religion.
   
Examining evangelist churches in Sri Lanka
  We would like to ask the Christian Council whether they are aware of the number of churches and prayer centres (which with time will be turned into full blown churches) established since, say 1985.
   
The motive of conversions
  The main motive of conversions is to get cheap labour and a big army for the Christian west.
   
Missionary activity and religious harmony 
  I think it is wrong to go around trying to coerce people to believe in any religion, and worse to exploit the poverty and helplessness of people to gain them as converts.
   
A problem affecting all religious communities
  I am a Catholic and I absolutely deplore the evangelization tactics used by some Christian groups in Sri Lanka.
   
Foreign missionaries in Sri Lanka
  While I do not agree with enacting legislation to prevent unethical conversions, I do not believe that people have a right to come barging into a country just so that they can fulfill their agenda of gaining souls for their God.
   
In another's shoes
 

I wonder whether our Christian brothers and sisters would like it if Buddhist or Hindu preachers enter an overwhelmingly Christian village and start enticing the poor villagers to adopt either Buddhism or Hinduism...

     
Programs must be put in place to counter evangelism  new
  Will Sri Lanka ever be free from the clutches of Christian proselytism? I doubt it.
     






  God squads

A new evangelism that shows respect

 
Join us in Prayer
 
I had a very interesting talk with a journalist from Sri Lanka the other day. Among other things, he spoke of the spread of fundamentalism on the island. [ >> ]
 

 
Four major religions in Lanka: Blessing or curse?
 
"...instances where converts are asked by their "shepherd" to demonstrate their renunciation by burning the scriptures and the symbols of the religion that they hitherto believed in, are clearly acts of violence. It violates all semblance of decency and heaps scorn on those who practice those religions." [ >> ]
 

     
The "Buddha biscuit"
A photo of the "Buddha biscuit" handed out by evangelists to Buddhist children while proselytising.
 
   
"A Christian missionary (pastor) brings two boxes before little children. He says one belongs to Jesus and the other to Buddha (not even Lord Buddha). Children are asked to select any box of their choice. The Buddhist children select the box of Lord Buddha. They find the box empty. The pastor now says select the box of Jesus. It is filled with so many items. Then the pastor says "see how Jesus loves you.""
 
     


 
  Foreign Funds for Evangelist teams in Sri Lanka | BMS World Mission
 

"As from November 2002 BMS World Mission will support five new national workers in their evangelism work around Sri Lanka. In a September meeting between BMS and its partner Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya (SLBS), it was agreed that BMS would grant 50 per cent of the funds needed to support the five Sri Lankan evangelists for the next five years.

The first was Rex Wijeratne, who is in his 50s and has two adult children. He was brought up as part of the Dutch Reformed Church, then joined the Baptist church at Hendela and studied at Serampore in India and more recently at the William Carey Institute. His ministry is in a place called Dompe and he is attached to the church at Palahla.

Another evangelist couple are Nimal and Pearl Fernando. They will be ministering at Bakmibemeia village and have actually been there since January 2002. They feel strongly that God called them to this place. Since moving there, the Fernandos have seen 75 people come to Christ.

BMS World Mission has been involved with work in Sri Lanka for almost 200 years, mainly in education, printing, translation and church work. More recently, BMS has been supplying annual grants and sending short-term personnel to work with five partner organisations which are now running some 600 projects throughout Sri Lanka."

 
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.bmsworldmission.org/standard.asp?ID=212%20
 


 
     'Unethical conversions' - rights and wrongs
 
P. P. Devaraj
P. P. Devaraj
P. P. Devaraj - Advisor, Ministry of Economic Reforms, Science and Technology:

It was a wise step by the Government to appoint a ministerial committee to look into this matter. If we ignore this at this juncture in future we may have to deal with a more serious and more hazardous situation.

It is true that we are a democratic country and everybody has the right to worship the religion of their faith. But organised mass conversions are something that calls for attention.

That organised conversions by these new branches of the Christian Church are there, is a fact that nobody can deny. It is unethical to use poverty and the ignorance of one section of society for the benefit of another group.

Catholic Church has in a recent statement denied any involvement with conversions and has also alleged that there are even attempts at converting Catholics to different branches of Christianity.

It may even be timely to consider the introduction of new laws by the legislature to discourage such organised conversions, as is done in India and some other countries.

Both Buddhist and Hindu religious organisations are not as financially stable as these new churches which get funds from around the world.

 
     

Who's that knocking on the door?  A Buddhist's Guide to Evangelical Christianity
 
About six months ago there was a knock on my door and I opened it to find two evangelicals Christians there. I knew they were evangelicals because they had that fake friendly smile on their faces, which all evangelicals have when they are trying to convert someone.

This was the third time that month that evangelists had come knocking on my door and disturbing me so I decided to teach them a lesson. 'Good morning' they said. 'Good morning' I replied.

 

   
The business of conversion goes on...

"Kithu Sevana began life as the mission branch of Youth for Christ (Sri Lanka), but grew beyond the boundaries of a youth ministry, Hence, the ministries were separated and in 1993, Kithu Sevana was officially registered as a Church in Sri Lanka. We are committed to moving into unreached areas and spreading the Gospel among people who have never heard it before, and establishing a church through the strengthening and expansion of cell groups." Kithu Sevana is a church-planting missions movement based in Sri Lanka. http://www.eurekaonline.com/kithusevana/

   

Articles of interest
  
» Unethical craft of conversion | Francis Gautier
» The Missionary Position | Peter Frawley
» Christian conversion in Buddhist Sri Lanka | Kamalika Peiris
» 'Let the evangelists allow us to follow the religion of our ancestors' | Sumana Saparamudu
» Pocket money, gift parcels - not sword and prayer book | D Piyasoma
» Do conversions endanger unity of the country? | Joginder Singh
» A question of faith? | Lional Wijesiri
     In response to Austin Fernando
» Proselytism and one's conscience | Yasapala Karunasinghe
» Triple Assault of God's Army | R Chandrasoma
» Crucifying Morality | T R Jawahar
» Globalized Fundamentalism versus Tradition | Indrani Devendra
» Will Hinduism survive the present Christian Offensive? | Francis Gautier
» Four major religions in Sri Lanka: Blessing or curse? | Kethesh Loganathan
» Conversion Aversion | Sandeep Heble
» Conversion as cultural demise | Sandhya Jain
» God Squads: Creeping Through Companies Act | Malinda Seneviratne
» Converting through Divine kindness and converting through Devil's connivance | Lakshman
» Religious Conversions | Dr. J. Das
» Which box do you want? | Eric Fernando 
» Conversions Sri Lanka (un)Ltd. | Atul Rawat 
» Ananda and the Christian Evangelists | Bodu Pubudu Foundation
» Conversion: A Buddhist Perspective | Ven. Dhammika

Links
  
» Christreview.org
Examining Christian evangelism in India



Your participation is most welcome. Please provide your thoughts, replies to any of the material presented on this website, as well as questions to: Contact FOCUS If you wish your article or letter to be published on this website, please make a note of it in the email.
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