SUPPORTING SRI LANKA AT THE WORLD CUP
I watched the finals of the Cricket World Cup in Nepal in the company of YFC staff workers from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Though we Sri Lankans were sad to see India defeat us, we rejoiced over making it to the finals and over the cup coming to our region for the next four years. The Indians celebrated by treating us to cake and Ice Cream.
I heard that in Sri Lanka, after the match was over, some Tamil homes had been vandalised because the vandals had assumed that those living in these homes supported India. And some had indeed supported India. Friends have told me that I should not bring up emotive cricket issues in Christian forums. I beg to differ. If we don’t hammer out Christian responses to these issues together, we can react in unChristian ways when emotionally charged.
My personal wish is that every Sri Lankan supports Sri Lanka when we play with another country. Sri Lanka is our mission field, where God has sent us to be servants of the nation. If we do not support the nation at such times, our commitment to the nation could be suspect.
But we must ask why some Sri Lankans don’t have the desirable warm feelings towards Sri Lanka. My Tamil friends have told me that it is because they have felt unwelcome and second class in this country. That is a challenge to us Sinhalese! We must do all we can to show our sorrow in private and public over what fellow Sinhalese have done to make our Tamil brothers feel this way. There can be no healing to our national wounds without public admission of guilt, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa demonstrated. We must also highlight the great contribution made to Sri Lanka by Tamils. Is not Mutthiah Muralitharan, probably the greatest cricketer Sri Lanka ever produced, a Tamil? How about the great Tamil Christian leaders, and the professionals, artistes and politicians who have enriched our lives?
Paul was rejected by his nation. But he loved the Jews, was in deep sorrow over their rejection of Christ, and desired to serve them as sacrificially as he could (Rom. 9-10). Similarly, I want to urge my Tamil brothers and sisters to make the unique and great contribution they can make to make our nation great! But as a Sinhalese, I will plead forgiveness from the Tamils that we made them feel unwelcome in Sri Lanka.