The scenes unfolding from the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, the country where my family originate, have taken me a while to process.

The country shaped like a teardrop has seen many tears shed in recent decades for several reasons, including the recent civil war and the 2004 tsunami. It’s a stunningly beautiful island that captivates honeymooners and seasoned travellers alike. A country famous for its Ceylon tea, Sri Lanka has had economic turmoil brewing for a while and it has sadly come to boiling point with disastrous consequences. We see the chemical fertilisers ban, unsustainable debt payments for infrastructure projects, the harsh effects of the global pandemic and widespread accusations of government misuse of public funds for itself. These have all contributed to the country currently resorting to appealing to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail it out to survive.

As is typical with many developing nations, most Sri Lankans survive on very little and while the middle class has been growing significantly over the last couple of decades, the vast majority of the country’s wealth is in the hands of a few. Politically, it is even more skewed with much of the power lying in the hands of a small number, many of those from one family, who the brunt of the recent protests have been against.

From the very first day of the protests, it has very much felt like this was Sri Lanka’s Arab spring’ moment. In fact, in a country which has often been fragmented along racial, religious and class lines, the protests have been a symbol of unity. Lawyers, students, farmers and heads of religious institutions have been marching together in the pursuit of change as the supermarket shelves have dried up, power cuts have become daily and queues for fuel extend for several hours. That pursuit has been relentless too, exemplified by the Galle Face beach, famous for beach parties, which has been transformed into a 24/7 gathering place for the protestors.


At the time of writing, eight people have died and over 200 have been injured from the protests, while politicians have been resigning en masse. Trust between the politicians and the population has been severely eroded as the vocal protests have demonstrated.

Rebuilding this trust is no easy task but still an essential one. Danny Lee Silk, author of the excellent book Culture of Honour said recently in a blog article that the development of trust comes from the exchange of truth”. Truth has to be exchanged between the politicians and the people but the level of disillusionment among the population in Sri Lanka can make it seem like there will never be trust in politicians again. When they feel so badly let down, reconciliation can feel like a step too far to take.

But the story of Joseph in Genesis 42 – 43 shows how it is possible to successfully reconcile with those we feel wronged by, in this case his brothers. He had every reason to choose not to forgive and not to heal and he had the authority to administer revenge against his brothers. His act of forgiveness was multi-layered – he didn’t hold anything against them, he blessed them, made sure others didn’t know about what they had done and actively sought to bring them closer to him.

If we have ever had our trust in someone betrayed, it takes work and the exchanging of truth and love to rebuild and reconcile. As Christians, we are a hopeful and hope-filled group of people but our role to bring reconciliation and rebuild trust can often feel unachievable when we see the sheer scale and deep-rooted and complex nature of the problem, especially as graphically as we often do in the news.

In such times, we can often undermine and underestimate the power of our own prayers. But as Charles Spurgeon said, prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscle of omnipotence. When we look at it that way, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to leverage our earnest prayers to change despairing situations, even from afar.

Please join us praying for the following:

  • Pray for forgiveness and reconciliation among fractured communities.
  • For the rebuild of trust between politicians and the people they serve.
  • For peace to reign over this beautiful island.
  • For the new government being formed to have the wisdom to navigate through some choppy waters ahead to achieve economic stability.
  • For food, fuel and medical supplies to be affordable and available to all areas of the country.
  • That the well-established and vocal church in Sri Lanka is able to help meet the needs of local communities.
  • That this crisis is not, as some have predicted, a precursor to similar situations happening in other countries.

You can join us for a time of prayer for the economic crisis in Sri Lanka and other current issues in South Asian countries as well as praying for the South Asian community in the UK on Saturday, 18 June at 10.30am at Kings Cross Baptist Church, which we are hosting in partnership with South Asian Concern. You can book here now.

"We have the opportunity and the responsibility to leverage our earnest prayers to change despairing situations, even from afar."