Minneriya is a small town in the Polonnaruwa district, in the North Central Province, which was once known as the irrigation paradise of Sri Lanka. On 27th March 2015, church members from 16 churches, both the young and the old, flocked in numbers to the little Methodist Church which is located next to the Minneriya tank. The church members who gathered came from underprivileged backgrounds in Polonnaruwa who were affected by floods and persecution for their faith.
Pastor Cecil Oscar Fernando, the Chairman of the Pastors’ Fellowship, explained to us the reason for this gathering. “The members of these congregations come from very difficult economic backgrounds. They have several needs that need to be met. For instance, some of them don’t have Bibles nor do they have the means to purchase Bibles. As a result they don’t have the opportunity to read what they hear preached to them. This is why we thought that it will be good if they could have Bibles of their own. When we communicated this to the NCEASL, they responded favourably to it.”
“Also, in small churches like this and in home cells the (congregation) doesn’t have a place to sit. Very often they sit on the floor. Therefore, there is a great need for new mats since most of the mats are worn and old. Similarly hymnals were also a requirement for worship. The NCEASL has very willingly agreed to meet these needs.” The pastor continued, “The children too face difficulties due to poverty. They find it difficult to continue their education because of economic challenges. The NCEASL has done a great service to these deserving communities by distributing book packs among the children” stated Pastor Cecil gratefully.
Mr Mahesh De Mel representing the NCEASL welcomed all those who had gathered from far and near. Whilst thanking the Pastors’ Fellowship of Polonnaruwa for organising this event he stressed “Today what you are about to receive is a demonstration of God’s people rallying around and caring for the Christians in Polonnaruwa”.
It was a very special day for all those present. The NCEASL distributed 340 Bibles to those who did not own a Bible. “It has been about 20 years since I accepted the Lord and started coming to church. When I came to Hingurakgoda, I started going to the church in Nuwarawatta. Up to date I never owned a Bible. I told this to the pastor and he said that he will try to arrange for me to receive a Bible. Today I am very happy because now I have my own Bible” said a jubilant Sita Ranjini who is one of the beneficiaries who received a Bible from the NCEASL.
The NCEASL also distributed 350 school bags and stationery to Christian school children in the Polonnaruwa District. The educational material they received brought them much happiness. Needy churches also received prayer mats for their congregation.
“We are extremely thankful to the NCEASL for their commitment, sacrifice and for giving their valuable time and resources to the entire nation” stated Pastor Cecil at the end of the programme.
The NCEASL is committed to sponsor this programme which is being carried out amongst the Pastors’ Fellowships of Polonnaruwa, Ratnapura, Muthur, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Mannar, Kalutara, Badulla, Matale, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Puttalam, Kurunegala, Batticaloa and Ampara. This programme aims to benefit a total of 5000 school children with school bags and stationery, 5000 people with Bibles and deserving Christian communities with 5000 hymnals and 1700 prayer mats.
Photographs of the distribution that took place across the Island can be viewed below.