Culture, Ethnicity & Diversity Course a Timely Topic in Sri Lanka
The Sri Lanka 2011 cohort just finished their very last classes in the DAI Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, one of which was Culture, Ethnicity & Diversity, written and taught by Paul Borthwick, DAI Senior Consultant. What an honest and timely topic for this cohort!
May 18 marks the 5th anniversary of the end of the 26-year civil war between the Buddhist Sinhala majority and Hindu Tamil minority, which took the lives of 100,000, displaced half a million and forced 900,000 to emigrate (mostly Tamils).
“After more than two decades of civil war, Sri Lanka is building a new future, and the Christian church is an active part of that future.” Paul Borthwick shares about the 2011 cohort, “I was excited to be part of the Sri Lankan cohort because the leadership represented a broad cross-section of all the streams of Sri Lankan society. The cohort includes all the majority ethnic groups of Sri Lanka including Christians who converted from Hindu and Buddhist backgrounds; this diversity is a critical factor in the process of reconciliation. It also includes a denominational diversity of pastors, senior staff from mercy ministries like World Vision and Compassion, and leaders in the National Churches Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka; the fact that these leaders study and grow together will serve as a catalyst for greater Christian unity in the future. I believe these cohorts will together increase the impact of the Kingdom of Christ on this beautiful country.”
One of the Sri Lanka 2011 cohort members, Viraj A. of World Vision, processed the ability to become a catalyst of forgiveness in his final paper. He says, “One of the most important things that crashed into my mind is forgiveness and reconciliation. How much do we need this in Sri Lanka, in our post war situation? Over more than 35 many years, hatred has been cultivated in the hearts of thousands of Tamils and Sinhalese. We hated each other, we belittled each other, we departed from each other and finally we killed each other. What is needed to embrace each other? Forgiveness. Without forgiveness there wouldn’t be true reconciliation.
I strongly believe that Christians have a great responsibility to establish a ground for reconciliation through forgiveness for those who are historically divided and culturally conditioned to hate each other. The body of Christ as we know is made up of imperfect, broken people who have one thing in common; we have been forgiven by Christ (vertical reconciliation). Unfortunately not all of us are willing to forgive and though we try our best to serve Him, we are unable to experience the fullness of His abundant life, for this very reason; our unwillingness to forgive those who have hurt us.
“Forgiveness is a vital aspect of the Christian’s life and witness. Jesus repeatedly mentions the importance of forgiving others, irrespective of what the offence is or whether justice has been done (horizontal reconciliation). More importantly, He modeled it. Forgiveness sets us free to love and is therefore the key to true reconciliation. Many who have chosen to pursue reconciliation but ignore this principle discover later that the hurts, anger and bitterness still remain, unattended to, beneath the surface.”