In June 2019, Nathan and Brooke Dissanayeke, along with children Bella, 6, and Malachi, 2, left their home in Newcastle and moved to Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo to plant a new church called ‘The Brave’. Here they share some of their learnings and challenges so far, and the hope they hold for their city and their nation.
How have the first months been settling into a new country?
We are now eight months into our journey and still only feel like we have just arrived into the craziness of city life here in Colombo. We are, however, starting to get into a rhythm and feeling like this is becoming home. We are growing closer as a family.
We are also now a registered and licensed travel agency. This helped us get our visa to live here and it is exciting but we know this will take some years before we see return from investment.
Have there been any challenges or are things as you expected?
We still miss our home, our friends, family, church and road rules! Life is harder and we feel isolated, and there is also the stress of trying to keep normal family life, finances and friendships. We know these are all normal feelings when moving to a new country and although we are unsure how it will unfold, we take one step at a time into the unknown knowing we are in the footstep God has made for us each day.
What is your heart for The Brave and how do you hope to build it?*
We believe it is important to build the church from the inside out. For us, that means not only building a strong local team but investing in and raising a strong local pastor who will work alongside us to build the church. Having a pastor who understands the culture and language will help us to reach and influence people and it will also build trust with the churches around us. We have had a few conversations with a key pastor who wants to be part of what we are doing, and we are working on how this will look and work moving forward.
Our heart is also for the church to be centred around life/connect groups, rather than just another thing the church does on the side. We are looking to launch our first connect group during 2020 and to use it to start building foundations for what will be our church. As we build connect groups, our aim is then to launch interest services either once a month or every other month. By the end of 2020, we are wanting to officially start regular services in the heart of the city.
Lastly, we plan to launch ‘The Brave Pathways’ – a personal and leadership development program for senior pastors and key leaders. We know that a lot of people have trouble with burnout, stress and communication. There is a stigma here where you have to have everything together and we want to break this stigma and bring a new freedom and joy in being who God has created us to be. We really feel that the
Church in Sri Lanka has lost its joy. If we can help the pastors and leaders ignite their own freedom and joy, we know this will flow through the Church.
How have you been able to start laying the groundwork for The Brave during 2019?
We continue to meet and talk with new people, sowing seeds and sharing our heart for what we are doing here, and we believe God will keep bringing the right people into our lives to build the church. We are also building our relationships with a few key churches which are kingdom minded and excited to support what we are doing. We want to build a kingdom culture of churches working alongside each other to reach this nation. This is something that is especially important in Sri Lanka as there is so much division and distrust between all the churches.
We are excited for what’s ahead and what God is going to do in building His Church. We feel privileged that He wants to use us in this process. We are also so grateful for all the prayers, messages and support from Australia. We could not build this on our own and believe that with this support, we will see a move of God like never before in this nation.
*Due to COVID-19 restrictions during the first half of 2020, Nathan and Brooke have launched the Brave Church online and have also started delivering their mentoring sessions online too.