One Thousand One Hundred Eleven

It is better to enter a house of mourning than a house of feasting, since death is the end of every man, and the living should take this to heart.  Ecclesiastes 7:2

For close to twenty years, I have been noting the notable events of the day and season in my Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest journal. It has served as a faithful testimony of all the Father has seen me through in countless countries, encountering over a million people around the globe in 25 years of ministry. 

It refutes the enemies echoing taunts that my life is pointless. 

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Fifteen years ago, shortly after the Tsunami devastated regions across Asia [1], I travelled to Sri Lanka to minister to villagers and children orphaned by the disaster. I worked with two young men (an American and a local Sri Lankan) that were courageously shining the light of hope across the devastated island nation.  

We went from the southern hardest hit areas to inland jungles gathering crowds, evoking smiles and generating laughter, as we advanced the Kingdom. On the long bus rides, I practiced saying names of cities and villages like Batticaloa, Weligama, Ambalangoda, Hambantota, Galle and Hikkaduwa. We stayed focused on the message and the mission, and along the way they taught me about MySpace, Blue Like Jazz, Smallville and 24, which acted as a welcome distraction from the surrounding disaster. 

One Thousand Seven Hundred

Around 9:30 in the morning, the earthquake served up the first gigantic wave, halting the local train operating between Columbo and Galle. Even six months later the bent and mangled passenger cars still served as a memorial to the 1,700 [2] (at least) lives lost. We drove past an inland lake where uncounted victims swept up by the disaster, floated for days. The overwhelmed local authorities stopped pulling victims from the waters when the body count topped 2,000.

Those numbers are staggering to reflect upon. But 15 years later, they are in large part unemotional statistics that roll off the tongue without a tremor and typed with detached ease. 

If only they were wise, they would understand it; they would comprehend their fate. Deuteronomy 32:29

We served together three times in Sri Lanka, and he joined us in India in 2007. The day our group was attacked, he endured a severe beating from the rebel insurgents while we hid, trapped with children in back room. Later that evening as we bandaged the wounds, he said over and over, “I gladly bear the stripes on my back for the sake of Christ.” 

Percentages, politics, and pretense aside, reported statistics on ANY disaster are a distant dilemma. Yet, in the days of a global pandemic they demand a change in our public behavior and mental mindset, which many, myself included, find irritating and an infringement on freedoms we enjoyed. 

I recounted the numbers and a brief remembrance of the horror of a day that claimed the lives of a quarter of a million juxtaposed with 1,111 – the number of deaths from COVID19 in the United States on December 5, 2020.

As you grow weary from hearing statistics, wearing masks, limited retail and restaurants this Christmas season, remember – the numbers also represent the multiplied heartbreak of those left behind.

My friend, the young Sri Lankan man that survived the tsunami and went on to lead countless thousands to Christ, lost his battle with the deadly virus that day. 

Amila Jayakody, good and faithful servant, resting now in peace.

Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15


[1] Over 250,000 people killed

[2] The single largest rail disaster death toll in history

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