For months, widespread protests have been taking place in Sri Lanka over the country’s worsening economic crisis, the worst since gaining independence in 1948. Blame has been directed at government policies along with the president’s incompetence and corruption. Thousands of people demanding “total system change” have rallied in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, calling for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his powerful brothers to quit politics amid a deepening economic crisis. The President has now fled the country and resigned.
People have been struggling with daily power cuts and shortages of basics such as fuel, milk powder, food and essential medicines. People are unable to access gas for cooking. Inflation is running at 50% and vulnerable people are on the brink of starvation.
The country doesn’t have enough fuel for essential services like buses, trains and medical vehicles, and officials say it doesn’t have enough foreign currency to import more.
This lack of fuel has caused petrol and diesel prices to rise dramatically.
In late June, the government banned the sale of petrol and diesel for non-essential vehicles for two weeks. Sales of fuel remain severely restricted.
Schools have closed, and people have been asked to work from home to help conserve supplies.
There are import restrictions, and Sri Lanka is unable to buy the goods it needs from abroad.
Sri Lanka’s currency has lost value. In May Sri Lanka defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time in its history as the country struggles with its worst financial crisis in more than 70 years. It failed to come up with the unpaid debt interest payment of $78m (£63m).
Dr Mayukha Perera, a former officer of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, and now resident in Colombo, said the crisis was causing challenges and problems on every front, and that prayer was needed for Sri Lanka’s citizens, the government and for the Church. In a report by Jenan Taylor in The Melbourne Anglican, Dr Perera said material aid was vital, but that people should be discerning about who they provided it to and how they provided it. He also said that one of the things that the world community of Christians could do was pray for Sri Lanka’s citizens who were suffering as well as for those who had become deeply angered by political events, that they would be discerning about the right and wrong way to do things. He also said another prayer was needed for the elected representatives who were in parliament, so they could serve the best interests of the nation until they could establish a government that was competent and strong.
Dr Perera also asked people to consider the Christian churches in the country. In some ways the crisis was a good opportunity for them to see beyond their own interests and needs and look out for others who were less fortunate. Many Christian organisations and churches were stepping up and being channels of food distribution, opening soup kitchens and giving cash to support people.
The Uniting Church agency UnitingWorld is supporting the Methodist Church Sri Lanka (MCSL) and Deaf Link to provide emergency food relief, as well as education support for children who have been affected by widespread school disruptions. They are targeting the most vulnerable: people with disabilities, unemployed widows and families supporting children and the elderly.
- Pray that God will have mercy and intervene.
- Pray that the President, Prime Minister, and Cabinet will resign immediately making room for the interim/unity government.
- Pray that the opposition parliamentarians will come together, and work together for the benefit of the nation.
- Pray for protection for those who are protesting around the country and that the powers that be will hear the voices of the people. Pray that the protests and protestors stay peaceful and non-violent, as there are more and more happening around the country.
- Pray for the judiciary for impartiality and justice to be upheld and corruption curtailed.
- Pray for the people of Sri Lanka who have been stretched beyond their capacity to cope in the past few weeks, who are tired, frustrated and bitter.
- Pray that the people will remain hopeful, peaceful but dissatisfied and vocal in protest, and endure until change takes place.
- Pray for the emergence of a credible political solution. Pray for courage to make the hard decisions and policies needed to bring stability to the economy.
- Pray for economic improvement and for resilience for the Sri Lankan people, so that they may continue to push through the next few months/ years as the government seeks answers for these losses.
- Pray for God’s mercy to be poured out on the people of this country and to bless Sri Lanka with the resources they need to help the country recover.
- Pray that the Church in Sri Lanka will be a beacon of hope to the people who continue to look for hope in these dark times.