Catechisms, Bibles and Workbooks: Teaching the Faith in Sri Lanka

For many LCMS Lutherans, getting a copy of the Small Catechism with Explanation might be as easy as asking the pastor; he probably has a free copy in his back pocket. Many Sri Lankan Lutherans, especially those in the upcountry, do not have easy access to catechisms and other biblical resources. There, where many of the Lutherans of the Ceylon Evangelical Lutheran Church (CELC) work on tea plantations, these resources must be brought in by truck and distributed by hand. Neither the plantation workers who work for very little nor their congregations can afford to purchase the materials. 

“People are starved for the catechism here,” said the Rev. Dr. Edward Naumann, theological educator to Sri Lanka. “They need it, and they don’t have it.” 

Naumann along with the rest of the mission team of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) in Sri Lanka recently distributed over 50 copies of Small Catechism with Explanation in the Tamil language. The Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF) office in India donated the books to the CELC, who eagerly received them.

Two local CELC workers, Nathan, projects manager for Sri Lanka, and Vijaykumar, porter at Immanuel Lutheran Church, personally distributed the materials. Beginning one morning at 4:00 a.m., Nathan and Vijaykumar took the catechisms and nearly 500 Tamil Bibles donated by the LCMS and distributed them to the 15 churches and preaching stations of the CELC. 

They did not return to Colombo until 1:00 a.m. the following morning. “Mr. Nathan and Mr. Vijaykumar are to be commended for their dedication to distributing these Bibles to the congregations of the CELC,” said Naumann. 

To meet the current needs for catechisms, at least another 100 copies are required with more in the following years as catechumens increase.

In addition to the catechisms and Bibles, pastors and Sunday school teachers use Tamil copies of One Hundred Bible Stories to teach the Sri Lankan children. Many of the children come from Hindu families. The parents and children seek out any opportunities to improve literacy. 

While the majority of the members of the CELC were born into the church, a solid base of Hindu converts also exists in the CELC. The Sunday school program supported by these materials from LHF provides one of these avenues for Sri Lankans to hear the Gospel. You can support the translation and distribution of literature in Asia

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