“I can’t.” This was Anthony Roshan’s first thought as he was asked to be the new Branch President in Negombo, Sri Lanka. This request overwhelmed Anthony’s mind as he currently served as the Elders Quorum President. He already felt swamped and was falling behind in his present calling. Where could he possibly find time to be a Branch President for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
From 1983-2009 the beautiful island country of Sri Lanka was entangled in a ruthless civil war. Hundreds of thousands of civilians fled for safety because of the fighting or because the landmines planted near their homes made it too dangerous. Since the end of the war, Anthony Roshan has had the dangerous and intense occupation of demining the land, making it possible for displaced families to return safely to their homes.
Employment caused him to travel to the northern part of the island, quite a distance away from his home. Job security was unknown as it depended on the funding from foreign governments and humanitarian organizations to remove the mines. The work contract was only extended six months at a time. Thoughts of providing a consistent income for his wife and two small children weighed heavily.
Being the only son, Anthony was responsible for caring for his parents. At times this was challenging because they were active members of another faith. Shortly following Anthony’s father’s death in January 2015, the new Church calling was extended to him. This loss was an additional concern to him and his family.
He had many excuses why this Church position was not right for him. Anthony recognized many of his own weakness that will not qualify him to be a branch president and lead the members of his congregation.
Nevertheless, he clearly knew in his heart that he should trust in the Lord. He exclaimed, “I cannot say no, but I will try and give it my best.” He told the District President, President Anton, that he would only be able to do it for one year.
Anthony and his wife Sharon discussed together how their family was going to make this work. They had two children and only one family vehicle, a Tuk-tuk, to travel the one-hour distance to church. They decided the family would drive together to church and when Anthony completed his meetings and interviews, they would ride home together in the evening. Sharon exclaimed, “It was challenging, but it was a blessing that the children didn’t get sick. Health is a huge blessing!” Soon they were blessed with a third child.
Anthony’s work extended beyond the six-month contract. Giving credit to the Lord, ten years later, Anthony is still employed removing land mines. During this time Sharon was able to find part-time employment at a school, allowing her to care for responsibilities at home.
During the times that they needed extra income, they prayed for help and were blessed to receive enough money from their jobs. They received only what they needed and no more. For example, enough income arrived just when the private school enrolment fee for their two children was due. They never had to borrow money and when they needed it, they even had enough to share with others. They attributed this blessing to being faithful and paying tithing.
After serving four years, Anthony reflected, “As soon as I accepted the call, my attitude and how I look at things changed.”
As he served and worked to understand the members’ needs, the Lord blessed him with humility to overcome his weaknesses. Anthony concluded, “When I look back over these four years, it makes me satisfied to do my best. I thought, I have no time, I thought I can’t do this…, but I learned with the Lord’s help, I can!”