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Sri Lanka – Challenges of training Christian leaders in a non-Christian country

Dr. Lal Senanayake, the principal of Lanka Bible College and Seminary (LBCS) in Sri Lanka, emphasises the significance of the partnership between Beacon Partnerships and LBCS. CTS Principal, Ivor Poobalan explains the need for partnership with Beacon Partnerships.
Studying on campus at Lanka Bible Seminary.

Colombo Theological Seminary Principal Ivor Poobalan speaks about the need for strong partners to fulfill their mission to transform the nations through resourcing the church.

Dr Lal Senanayake, the principal of Lanka Bible College and Seminary (LBCS) in Kandy, Sri Lanka explained why the partnership Beacon Partnerships has with LBCS is important to them.

A Buddhist country

As a predominantly Buddhist country, with 70% practicing the faith, compared to 7% Christians (less than 2% are Protestant), there are many challenges of doing Christian work in a non-Christian country that people may not be aware of.

Unlike Buddhist seminaries, Christian seminaries like LBCS do not receive any funding from the government. Churches that send students to seminary to study are also unable to provide support to the institution. In the long-run, LBCS has plans to create a self-sustainable system, but in the meantime, funds are greatly needed to support and sustain faculty development and give staff and faculty a decent salary they deserve.

The theological immaturity of some Christian leaders and unwise approach to Christian missions sometimes causes problems that can lead to a poor impression of Christianity among non-Christians, especially Buddhists. Even within the church, there is the challenge of guarding against false teachers and prophets who try to mislead the congregation. Hence it is crucial to have well-equipped Christian leaders with the spiritual and theological maturity to bring about transformational impact both in the church and society.

Beacon Partnerships’ support is essential

As resources for higher theological education are only in English at present, support is essential to help LBCS develop a generation who are able to do their theological education in English. Beacon Partnerships’ equips LBCS by sending volunteers to train students’ academic English skills and providing literature, online literature and other resources. In this way, LBCS students are able to tap into the wealth of existing English language Christian literature.

With the support provided by Beacon Partnerships, the leadership at LBCS is free to focus on other initiatives that will allow the college to make a bigger cultural impact on churches in Sri Lanka. Examples of these include their development of the School of Christian music and worship and running a hostel for university students.

Lal hopes that what they do at LBCS will motivate church leaders to engage in holistic mission and bring about spiritual and societal transformation in Sri Lanka.

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