The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), originally the Evangelical Fellowship of Ceylon (EFC), was founded in June 1952 and has a membership of over 200 churches and organisations, representing over 200,000 Evangelical Christians in Sri Lanka. The NCEASL in keeping with its vision of ‘Unifying the Church to transform the nation’, works proactively in three broad areas of Missions, Evangelism and Theology; Religious Liberty and Human Rights and Relief and Development.
The NCEASL has a national office in Colombo and regional offices in Batticaloa, Galle, Jaffna, Trincomalee and Vavuniya and satellite stations in Anuradhapura, Chilaw, Gampola and Mannar.
Sri Lanka is an island situated off the Southern coast of the Indian subcontinent and is home to 20.45 million people from diverse religious, ethnic and language backgrounds. Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam are the main religions that are practiced in Sri Lanka. The ethnic communities include the Sinhalese, Tamils (of both Sri Lankan and Indian origin), Moors, Malays, Burghers and the indigenous Veddah community. The Sinhalese Buddhists make up the majority of the population. Protestant Christians make up the smallest religious minority of 1.3% of the population.
Sri Lanka is a favoured tourist destination with a rich history that spans over 3000 years, a vibrant culture and diverse landscapes with high biodiversity. However, long years of war and terrorist attacks adversely affected the country’s economy and development.
Sri Lanka is recovering from an almost three decade long war that was brought to an end through the military victory of the Sri Lankan armed forces in 2009. Allegations of war crimes and human rights violations by both warring parties and the calls for accountability both by local and international bodies still continue. The long years of war caused untold suffering, loss of over 100,000 lives, loss of property and displaced more than 328,000 persons. Though the resettlement of internally displaced persons is largely complete, there are many who are yet to return to their original homes, while still others strive to regain their lost livelihoods.
The end of the war has brought about large scale development initiatives as the focus of the Sri Lankan Government has shifted to infrastructure development, with highways, road networks and reconstruction taking place. With the easing of security restrictions, the confidence of domestic consumers and investors has revived. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), despite the war, the 2004 Tsunami and the impact of global recession, Sri Lanka has achieved middle-income status. However, poverty continues to haunt some rural areas and the staggering cost of living is taking a toll on the average wage earner. Corruption too has added to the burden of the average citizen.
The end of the armed conflict that opened the possibility of a new period of prosperity also gave Sri Lanka the opportunity to work towards sustainable peace through a durable and lasting political solution. However, very little progress has been made in this respect and the scars of war on society have made the return to normalcy for the war affected regions all the more difficult. Issues pertaining to the takeover of private and state land by the military, restrictions on the freedom of movement, etc. still restrict the normalcy in the lives of civilians in these areas.
Sri Lanka has a long history of international engagement, being a founding member of South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and the G77. The Government however continues to battle allegations of human rights violations, suppression of media freedom, the lack of an independent judiciary etc. with pressure being exerted for accountability and justice at various international forums.
While the Christian minority has endured acts of persecution and anti-Christian violence for over two decades, recent years has seen an increase in religious intolerance and attacks against Christians also spreading to attacks on the Muslim minority. During 2012 – 2013 period, a series of well organised attacks against Christian churches and the forced closure of churches were carried out – especially in the Southern part of Sri Lanka. Though the Constitution grants foremost place to Buddhism, it also guarantees the freedom of thought, conscience and religion of all communities. Much of the religiously motivated violence, discrimination and intimidation remain unknown to the general public as they are rarely reported by the mainstream media.
It is in such a context that the NCEASL works towards transforming and rebuilding shattered lives, empowering vulnerable communities, providing justice and equality for the marginalised and the persecuted.