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Local Witnesses await the arrival of delegates at the Bandaranaike International Airport.

DECEMBER 21, 2018
SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka Hosts Their First Special Convention

Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses from seven countries joined their brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka for a special convention, the first ever in Sri Lanka. The “Be Courageous”! Special Convention was held in the capital city, Colombo, from July 6 to 8, 2018, at the Sugathadasa National Sports Complex. The peak attendance was 14,121. Highlights included discourses presented by a member of the Governing Body, a record number baptized at one time, and outstanding hospitality shown by the local brothers and sisters to some 3,500 delegates.

Preparations began in September 2017 when congregations in Sri Lanka were informed that a special convention would be held the following year. In addition to all the arrangements that were needed to host the event, the stadium was in need of significant repair and cleaning. This effort included painting, removing garbage, fixing broken chairs, and repairing holes in the road. Three weeks before the convention began, hundreds of Witnesses arrived to assist in the effort. One security officer remarked that it would have taken the maintenance staff up to four years to accomplish what the brothers were able to do in such a short time.

The spiritual program was complemented by a variety of tours and activities highlighting the Sri Lankan culture. An evening performance of traditional dancing and singing was a memorable aspect of the program, which also included a group of young Witnesses singing Kingdom songs.

Ashley Ferdinands, a representative at the branch office in Sri Lanka, said: “This special convention was a true gift to the brothers and sisters in our country and it was a privilege to host so many delegates. We are very appreciative for the help of the many volunteers who made this convention a success. Of course, we give all praise to our heavenly Father who is the source of all good gifts and presents.”—James 1:17.

 

The convention venue was split into four language groups, English (shown here), Sinhala, Sri Lankan Sign Language, and Tamil.

Brother Anthony Morris of the Governing Body concluded the program each day.

A record number of 273 were baptized at the convention.

The brothers hosted local media outlets for a press conference at the branch office. Over 40 journalists attended and were given a tour of the facility.

A media representative for the convention is interviewed by two of Sri Lanka’s largest news stations.

In January 2018, over 700 brothers and sisters gathered in Colombo for a training session to prepare for the convention.

Volunteers worked to fix the many broken chairs at the convention venue.

“Get to Know Us” programs were held at several different Kingdom Halls near the convention city of Colombo, which allowed the delegates to get acquainted with the local brothers and sisters.

Performers showcased Sri Lankan artistic diversity, like this classic Tamil dance.

A group of young Witnesses sang “Jehovah’s Warm Appeal: ‘Be Wise, My Son’”.

Delegates enjoyed learning how tea is produced.

At the conclusion of the convention delegates held up signs expressing their love for the local brothers and sisters.