New homes and churches for Christians in Sri Lanka

A Christian woman in her new home built by Barnabas Fund(Photo: Barnabas Fund)

Barnabas Fund is building homes and churches for Christians displaced by Sri Lanka's brutal civil war.

Homes are being constructed for Christian widows, disabled people and pastors who have spent years living in tents despite the conflict ending in 2009.

The civil war lasted more than a quarter of a century and devastated communities across northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

Among the recipients is a family of seven in which the father and three of the five children are disabled.

The mother of the family told of how they returned to their village to find their home completely destroyed.

"During the rainy season we struggled with three disabled children," she said.

"Now we have a roof over our heads, now we have a house, we feel safe."

The family are involved in the church and are opening up their house for meetings. "We want to be a blessing to this village," she said.

"By God's grace, he brought us back to our village and gave us a new home. I give him million thanks and praises."

One newly constructed church replaces the previous one destroyed by fighting in 2007. That church had itself replaced the original church washed away by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. The tsunami struck as a service was taking place, killing 56 members, among them the pastor's wife and children.

The destruction of the second church in 2007 forced the congregation to hold their services out in the open.

The pastor said of the newly built church: "We are very grateful and rejoicing in our Lord for this building.

"We are able to worship without fearing for rain and weather."

Jude Simion, Barnabas Fund South Asia coordinator, said Christians are marginalised and often discriminated against in the distribution of government aid.

"But widows, the disabled and pastors face additional problems," he said.

"For example, when a disabled person lives in a tent, their health deteriorates. They need a specialist house with disabled access."

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said: "Though it has been a number of years since the end of the war, Christian communities in Sri Lanka are still suffering from its devastating effects.

"The plight of many families, who lost loved ones in the conflict or are struggling with disability, is truly heartbreaking.

"As a marginalised minority, Christians rely on support from their brothers and sisters. We need your support to help them rebuild their lives."