“I will not leave this place.” Pastor Shantha’s heavily creased brow revealed both sorrow and determination. Sitting on the rubble of what used to be his home, he spoke of the death of his wife and baby daughter, and quietly declared that he would stay where God had called him.

When Pastor Shantha returned home from a Christmas service at his church nearly 19 miles away, water was everywhere. After hearing of the large wave in his village he came as fast as he could, but what he found left him numb with grief.

His village lay in ruins. His son had miraculously survived, but Pastor Shantha found the bodies of his wife and 2-year-old daughter in a temporary morgue.

“I am a minister of God, but the emotions I feel I can’t put into words,” he said. “It is too much for me to bear.” Surrounded by the remains of his family’s life, the sadness was deep in his eyes. “All this took place in minutes. It is still not real to me.”

But Shantha is determined not to leave the place where the Lord brought him. He has already endured numerous hardships in his ministry, including his church building being burned and his life being threatened more than once.

“I don’t know what’s ahead, but I know God has a plan for me,” he said firmly. This trust in God’s plan and desire to carry it out is what keeps Pastor Shantha going. Despite his intense sorrow, he continues ministering among the desperate survivors from his village, testifying of the Lord’s goodness and the hope they can have in Him.

“People tell me to go, but I am going to stay where so many things have happened to me and where God has been so faithful.”