Today in the Mission Yearbook

Sri Lanka

Fear and Faith


May 4, 2016

Despite Dangers, Jesus‘ Followers Find Comfort in His Words: ‘Do Not Be Afraid’ 

A letter from Gary and Marlene Van Brocklin, serving as regional liaisons for South Asia, based in Sri Lanka:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27b)

“I sought the Lord and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.” (Psalm 34:4–5)

The hospital staff lived out the psalmist’s experience. During my (Gary’s) recent visit, the gracious hosts of the Taxila Hospital explained how in August of 2002 the hospital was attacked by four men who tossed grenades at the hospital’s chapel just as the weekly Friday morning worship service ended. The initial explosions killed four young nurses, and 20 people were injured. Within minutes staff members were carefully tending to the dead and wounded, including one of the attackers. The hospital was closed on Saturday for the police investigation, and the Sunday Sabbath was observed. But on Monday morning the hospital was full of patients again as the staff processed their grief and pain by continuing their gospel witness of healing and hope to the hundreds of Pakistanis in the area who count on the hospital each day to offer excellent medical care at low cost.

I was deeply moved by this experience of mortal fear and inspiring faith. I had come to Pakistan fearful for my own safety, and now I was learning what it was like to live a life of faith in the midst of a culture of violence. I left with a much deeper understanding of God’s people being delivered from their fears in order to display their radiant trust in a God of justice and peace.

The radiant faces of schoolchildren who had taken time from their holiday to greet me as I toured their school buildings in several villages is another cherished memory. The Presbyterian Church of Pakistan is doing an excellent job of promoting God’s justice and peace through these schools, and many U.S. donors have contributed to major projects to expand the scholarship base and physical facilities of these ministries that trace their history to visionary mission work done there over 150 years ago. What a joy it was to see the dedication of so many able Pakistani professionals offering a hopeful future to hundreds of children from a rich variety of economic and religious backgrounds.

I left Pakistan exhausted from the intense summer heat, yet eager to return to learn more about partnering with such people of faith and hope. What a faith adventure! Please join us in prayer that the church of Pakistan would continue to live out its calling to be agents of gospel peace and hope in the midst of religious and political brinkmanship practiced by so many of those with power and privilege.

Let us join in prayer for:


PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Asha Ouseph, PMA
Linda Pagano, PMA
Debbie Paris, PW

Let us pray


John 14:23–29 (NIV)

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.”