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South Asia

South Asia

Makewita, Sri Lanka. Britt Towery and the family of host D. S. Alwis (standing to Towery's right on the back row -- Towery is the one without a tan.) celebrate their birthdays January 12, 1977. Mr. Alwis, retired railroad man, was in the church services that day when Towery preached. Upon learning the visiting preacher and he had the same birthday, he invited the foreigner to his home to share the celebration. The chicken and rice curry was better than any restaurant could ever produce, even in Hong Kong or Calcutta. It was real home cooking. Add to that the fellowship with believers made it a very special occasion. Something like God's peace, it "passeth understanding."

After the festivities some of Mr. Alwis' family went with Towery to the local Buddhist temple. They visited with the priest and gave him a New Testament in the local language. The monk was most gracious. Earlier when the Christian meetings began in the Makewita Baptist Church this Buddhist priest shared a few words of welcome as did the local Roman Catholic priest. The outdoor meeting was attended by a throng of people. The platform covered with beautiful real flowers. Plastic flowers have no place in this land of the most beautiful real ones.

After the week's preaching mission was over Towery's interpreter told him that the church did not really want to bother with the meetings. Who wants to hear a Texas preacher from Hong Kong? Afterwards the interpreter said the attitude change and most were glad for the experience.

This was Towery's only trip to the land the British ruled when it was called "Ceylon" and the only time Towery preached seven times in one day -- twice in the church building and in five open air markets. Sri Lanka is home for some of the world's best tea and priceless gems. It was on this trip that Towery got a serious bite from a cane bug. His leg swelled like a balloon until the local medicines cured it (swelled leg is better than a swelled head).

The tiny island of Sri Lanka, off the southeastern coast of India, claims to have a tooth of the Indian prince Gatuma Buddha, the man who started the ball rolling for the Buddhist religion. The tooth is in a temple in Kandy, 72 miles from Colombo. The old name of Ceylon reminds us of the British Empire days of Kipling when the locals were the "white man's burden." A time when arrogant European empires helped turn many a country in what are today called "third world countries."

The British ruled India (Ceylon was a part of it then) for hundreds of years, years of strife and famine. When the British were finally kicked out in 1947 there was not much to build on. But India has recovered and has one of the best democratic governments in Asia. Industry has grown and there have been no famines since the Indians took over their own land.

Sri Lanka has its own government apart from India. In 1977 the Prime Minister was a woman. They have had a long civil war with the Tamals who came long ago from South India. Peace there is still rare, but there is always hope.

"Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer" (New Testament, Romans 12:12)

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope..." (Romans 15:13)

[posted with joy this 13th day of June, 2003]



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