Testimony of Chandula Abeywickrema
It is wonderful to know that the Lord has chosen us before the foundation of the world. Having chosen, he engineers every step of our earthly life so that his ultimate plan and purpose is fulfilled in us.
I was born in 1956 to Buddhist parents. My father & mother were very strong Buddhists hailing from down south of Sri Lanka. I am the eldest in the family of 4 children. Younger to me I have 2 sisters and a brother. At the age of 7, my father left us and since that time it was my mother who brought us up. Being a middle class family, considerable hardship was faced by us due to this family problem.
My mother being a strong Buddhist was very much involved in many Buddhist activities and sought the help of Astrologers and other Buddhist religious activities to solve our family problems. We have been brought up in a Buddhist environment where we have been in and out of Buddhist Temples on a weekly basis. Visiting various Buddhist shrines together with my mother during our small days was a very familiar occurrence,
Despite all this, I had never felt that God helped our family other than my mother who worked and educated us and gave us a reasonable living style. It was routine to meet Buddhist Priests and go through their Buddhist rituals without any spiritual significance and it is in 1976, when I was studying for my Advanced Level examination, a friend of mine invited me for a youth Bible study discussion. I went to this meeting just for the fun of it because I was told so many young girls & boys met here. At this group study, a stunning question by the youth presenter, asked to the Group, aroused my desire to know more about the Bible.
"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul", when Jesus asked some people" - Matthew 16:26.
When I came from this study, this was working in me for quite some time and I continued to go for these studies and was interested to know more about the Bible.
In 1977 I was selected for the University to do my degree in Bachelor of Commerce. During this period of time I started to go to the Pentecostal Assembly of God ministry where Jesus Christ was presented by the preachers as one who brought salvation to mankind, one who could purge the sinful nature of man and to redeem the body. I accepted the Lord Jesus as my Saviour and became a Christian on my own choice despite heavy objection, rejection and opposition by family members. It was quite a struggle to know the Lord and grow as His child. However, I saw the hand of God guiding me through various people who came to assist me in my spiritual upbringing from 1977 to 1981. I had a deep desire to serve the Lord in his Kingdom and I did not have the slightest idea of how this was going to happen.
I graduated in 1981 with a Degree in Bachelor of Commerce and joined one of the leading soft drink manufacturers as a Management Trainee. My thirst for the deeper things of God continued and the deep desire to serve him was ever present. However, being in the Assembly of God I also came to know that there were certain practices which were contrary to the true writing of the Word. The non-practicing of what was preached together with some of the political aspects in the organised religion disheartened me.
It was during this time that another friend of mine introduced me to a Brother by the name of Sam Buell, who used to have fellowship with Brother Charles Saias of U.S.A., who brought the message of Brother Branham to Sri Lanka. These brothers exposed me to the true revelation of the oneness of God, water baptism in Jesus’ Name and the message of the endtime brought by Brother Branham. It was easy for me to accept as it was exactly my deeper thirst - "Deep calleth unto the Deep".
I had no problem receiving this teaching despite being involved 5 years in the ministry of Assembly of God which believes in the Trinitarian doctrine. I was baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. During this period, we were able to bring a few people to the Endtime message and have meetings continuously in a few places despite being rejected and called a cult group and "Jesus only" people by many denomination churches and a few other brpthers. I was able to bring some of the brothers who were very close to me at the Assembly of God to the message and even got them re-baptised. However, due to different pressures, some went back to their own denomination.
In 1983 Brother Charles Saias returned to the States and he arranged to send a few brothers from India to assist us in the ministry. These brothers happened to be orthodox Branhamites who preached nothing but sermons from Brother Branham's books. Being firmly grounded in the Word I did not have the conviction to receive these strange teachings, quite contrary to what Brother Charles Saias shared. I was rather confused and rejected the fellowship of these brothers. Because of this, two Sri Lankans, who were with me at that time, left me. One started his own ministry with a healing programme. The other migrated to Australia. During this year I got married to my wife and was left alone only with my family and without a fellowship in Colombo. However, on our own, we used to go to some of the Pentecostal churches for evening service, for worship and just to be in touch with things of God.
In 1985 I joined another company in the financial service own by a Japanese conglomerate, I was quite involved in my professional career. During this time I was exposed to the commercial & world affairs & activities. As a family we went and fellowship and worship at a Pentecostal Church, a Trinitarian Church. However, I used to maintain spiritual contact with some brothers in different places over the phone and in writing. During this period the Lord prospered me in my professional career in the institution where I worked and I excelled in every area and had opportunities to travel to different parts of the world. I did not want to get too involved in any denomination church knowing that their doctrines are wrong. In 1990 I changed my job again to another leading financial institution in the country on a senior appointment.
However, it was a lonely time for me and my family without fellowship, just with God. During this period, nearly 8 years, it was me, my family and God -- just dealing to live a life according to the Word without any fellowship, with no other members of the true Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ.
During the latter part of 1995 I received 2 books from a person I used to correspond with who was in the oneness message. The books were by Brother Richard Gan— one on Discrepancies and the other on the Foundation. These two books were the answer to my prayer for 8 years, seeking God to direct me to the truth. These books gave me an exposure into the error committed by the Endtime message churches, especially the Branhamites, and the truth and true calling of the Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. I immediately wrote to Brother Gan requesting him to send books listed in the last page of the books I was reading. I had no response to my letter but some brother had come to my home and left a couple of books and gone leaving his telephone number. I made contact with this brother and was able to discuss with him the ministry of Brother Richard Gan. This was the beginning of the establishment of the Church in Colombo, my family and his family and some group of believers began gathering at my home. Since then we have established a relationship with Brother Richard Gan who has visited Colombo, Sri Lanka, about 4 - 5 times up to now.
Now our small fellowship has spiritually grown from strength to strength in the Word. Now we have 3 - 4 families meeting (15 - 20 believers) as a Church in my home, which I pastor.
The 8 years of loneliness in my spiritual life was like Moses who spent 40 years in the Egyptian Pharaoh's palace and 40 years in the desert, during which time the Lord has matured me and taught me many things in His Word and about His Kingdom.
Our fellowship in Colombo is now responsible for helping two other fellowships in Kandy which is 70 miles away from Colombo and in Haputale about 100 miles away from Colombo. We also fellowship with a couple of believers in Matale & Trincomalee. Brother Gan's ministry from time to time revitalises, strengthens and builds us up. God has prospered our ministry in Sri Lanka. Now I realise how God took me through various ways in order to finally make me his servant, messenger, prophet and priest, to be more equipped for the final ministry of the Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ.
My wife's name is Chandrika. My daughter, 16 years old, is Anya and my son, 10 years old, is Chanula. They are fully involved in the work. We are looking forward to the day that our mortal bodies put on immortally and the corruption put incorruption, where we would be able to reign with Jesus Christ for a thousand years.
I am currently working as a Deputy General Manager at a leading private bank in Sri Lanka — Hatton National Bank Ltd.
Praise God for His goodness and loving kindness.