One of God’s great warriors for the kingdom in Sri Lanka, Canon Dr Lakshman Pieris, went home to the Lord on 30th March 2014. He was a pioneer in seeking to use culturally sensitive means to reach unreached people in Sri Lanka with the gospel. He passionately shared Christ with others right to the end of his life.
Many people, originally from the majority faith, have told me that he was the instrument God used to bring them to Christ. Others have told me of how he cared for them like a father. He was a prolific writer of articles, monographs, books and even a paraphrase of the New Testament. Many of our youth have commented on how they could understand the simple language in that version of the Bible. His simple booklet, Oba Nisa (For You) was a means to bringing many to Christ.
In my early teens, I went on three successive years for YMCA boys camps. I was very attracted to the young Anglican priest who was an excellent sportsman (later I heard he had been a very good boxer) and who clearly loved the Lord. It was my honour to partner with him in many ventures after I also joined the ministry. The one I remember most was the writing of the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Reaching Buddhists about thirty years ago. I think that little booklet set the stage for many more comprehensive works on the topic that emerged later. Fr. Lakshman chaired the committee.
A true ecumenical, he was always ready to encourage any venture for Christ which he felt sincerely sought to honour Christ. He did this when Youth for Christ started in Sri Lanka almost 50 years ago. He was also passionately committed to ethnic harmony in our troubled nation and joined in numerous efforts to foster that.
As I live near to where he lived, during the past few years he has often travelled with me if we were going for the same gathering. Last year we travelled together in a van for a conference all the way to Jaffna. In this and the other journeys we took together, he did not dwell on the past in our conversations. He always talked about the present, about what can be done, about how we should correct wrong things that were happening and about opportunities and strategies to take the gospel to people in our land. His evangelistic passion never faded.
To the end of his life Fr. Lakshman exemplified Paul’s advice: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord (Rom. 12:11). I thank God for his loving wife Veronica and his three children for letting Fr Lakshman do the ministry that he did and I pray that God’s comfort would be abundantly theirs in the years to come.