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The End of a Buddhist Line
By: Mervyn Mediwake
Exhausted, I fell across the bed. For the first time in years, I had done manual labor-shoveling manure in a pig barn. Red blisters decorated my hands. My body ached. I never knew pain could cut to the core of ones soul.
A few weeks earlier life had been comfortable in my native land. My family lived in a large, well-furnished home amidst landscaped gardens. Many servants waited on us: valets, gardeners, cooks, cleaners and chauffeurs. They pressed our clothes, shined our shoes and cooked our meals.
How had I fallen so far?
As I lay in bed, my life flashed in front of me. Neither the past nor the future looked very good. For the first time, I took an honest view of myself. I needed help.
For someone from the ruling class, that felt unfamiliar. I was born to a high-caste Kandyan family in Sri Lanka (known then as Ceylon). My parents, as their parents, grandparents and others before them, were Buddhists.
The headmaster of a school, my father was a strict disciplinarian who clearly loved his nine children. However, our society regarded public demonstration of affection as a sign of weakness. Since my mother died when I was nine, I grew up understanding little of parental love. A special bond with one of my sisters sustained me for many years.
After my mothers death I secured a government scholarship and went away to boarding school. There, as a teenager, I enrolled in the Ceylon Cadet Corps, which provided junior military training.
At their annual camp meeting, I decided one Sunday to attend a Christian church service. There the people impressed on me that I needed to be a Christian. Though I knew nothing of the faith or why it was necessary, I agreed to do that. Later I used the Christian name, Mervyn that an instructor gave me one day.
However, I remained a good Buddhist. I studied diligently and received my Higher School Certificate from the Young Mens Buddhist Association of Ceylon.
Thanks to my family inheritance, at 21 I traveled to London, England, to study accounting. Over the next few years, though, I decided earning money beat spending it. I dropped my studies, passed the British Civil Service exam, and became a clerical employee with the Department of War Pensions.
Through mutual friends at work I met Muriel, a native of Scotland who believed in Jesus at a young age. Soon after we began dating, we married. Her Christian parents and my Buddhist family were all very upset!
After the ceremony I felt a deep longing to return to Sri Lanka. We moved to Muriels hometown and I enrolled in the agricultural college at the University of Aberdeen. I hoped to use that training to obtain employment in my homeland.
Several years later, diploma in hand, we traveled to Sri Lanka for a short holiday. Three weeks after arriving, my studies enabled me to become a consultant for the Ceylon Cold Stores. Subsequently, they offered me the position of assistant superintendent of livestock on their 5,000-acre plantation. It was the largest commercial, vertically integrated livestock operation on the island. We wound up staying for three years.
Ironically, three company executives and their wives were Christians. One openly talked about her faith in God, which deeply affected Muriel. She started attending church and teaching our daughter, Naomi, about her God named Jesus.
My teenage desire to be identified with the Christian faith haunted me. I feared that label. Friends might sneer. Mervyn flipped. He got religious and started believing in a God that nobody can see, hear or feel.
And what about my father? Would he blame Muriel for converting me to believe in a foreign God? Would the estates hundreds of resident laborers think I was a pushover?
During the next few years, fear of ridicule gave way to concern for my familys safety. Ethnic infighting, civil unrest, terrorism and economic difficulties threatened Sri Lanka. Life became difficult and dangerous.
Where would we go? My resignation from the British Civil Service eliminated job possibilities there. We thought about New Zealand but its economic prospects were as dim as Englands.
Though knowing little of the country, we decided to migrate to Canada. To obtain Landed Immigrant Status there, I needed a job offer. That appeared to be an impossible dream.
Without my knowledge, Muriel began diligently praying. She asked God to remove us from Sri Lanka, and for my salvation. He answered in miraculous ways.
First, through an advertisement in a three-year-old pig farming magazine, I found a job in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan. We overcame obstacle after obstacle and Canada granted us landed immigrant status.
Today, if youre looking at impossible circumstances, remember the words of Genesis 18:14, Is anything too hard for the Lord?)
Muriels parents, who had reconciled themselves to our union, then sent us airplane tickets. After dispatching my family to them in Los Angeles, I continued on to Canada. A national rail strike in Canada forced me to take more expensive transportation from Toronto, Ontario. I arrived in Gull Lake, Saskatchewan, with 47 cents in my pocket and lonely.
When unrest raged around us in Sri Lanka I thought getting out would solve my problems. I thought otherwise after seeing my new living quarters: a bare bunkhouse with a mattress tossed in one corner for a bed.
Later I would see myself similar to the Prodigal Son in that story in Luke 15. Living poorly and tending pigs filled me with desperation and despair.
Godif someone called God even exists! I screamed. Take over my life and see if you can make it a better one than the mess it is now!
An unexplainable peace passed over me. I began sobbing. I wept for hours before falling asleep. Later, I would learn that in the very hour that I cried out to the Lord, Muriel was praying with a group of women in California. She asked that He save the soul of her Buddhist husband.
The next morning I walked out and saw a car parked beside the pig barn. The driver asked if I was a Christian. Recalling my teenage church visit I said, I think so.
If youre a Christian, you know so, replied the man, a Baptist minister. We talked and he handed me a copy of Good News for Modern Man, the New Testament in todays English version.
Over the next day and a half I read the whole book. It clearly stated I needed to ask Jesus to be my Saviour and Lord. In that aging bunkhouse I invited Him to come live in my heart.
Jeremiah 33:3 promises that God will answer those who cry out to Him and show them great and mighty things. He did. The Lord supernaturally removed the farms owner to another location and-after my family joined me-we moved into the farm house.
There Muriel and I led Bible study. As I studied I read that Jesus talked about a baptism of fire that followed water baptism. One night seven of us at this study asked for Holy Spirit baptism. We all received it, with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
I had first lacked the boldness to witness, pray for the sick, cast out demons, and believe God would act. Now I could do them all, through the Holy Spirit in me.
God is love and I believe our highest calling is to show His love to others. Our focus should never be on what we can get from God but on what we can do for Him.
Yet, God wants to act on our behalf, too. If you believe in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, you are Gods child. He made some promises to us.
One of them is found in 3 John, verses 1-2. The apostle wrote that God wants us to prosper and be in health, even as our souls prosper. Our whole familys souls prospered in Bible study, church attendance and fellowship with other Christians. Now God wanted to prosper me physically.
For years I suffered chronic tendonitis in both elbows, caused by the farm work required during agriculture school. I had been scheduled to have surgery in Scotland and in Sri Lanka. Each time, I wound up moving on before it could take place.
They hurt so badly that I bandaged my elbows every morning before I could use my hands.
At one of our Bible studies, a Spirit-filled Lutheran pastor told me he felt that I had a painful condition in my elbows.
Yes, but it will soon be taken care of, I said. Ill be having surgery in two weeks.
Do you believe God can heal? he asked. After I nodded, he asked if he could pray for me. He uttered a simple request, concluding, Lord, I believe you love this man enough to heal his elbows.
That night I didnt bandage them. It didnt dawn on me the pain had vanished until the next morninghalfway through shaving! A doctor once told me this ailment would cripple me by age 50. Im several years past 50 and doing quite well.
The blessings didnt stop with my personal life. There are few things that matter more to a man than his occupation. God moved in this area, too, promoting me up the corporate ladder.
Only ten months after becoming a lowly pig herdsman the Lord created an opening at a large farm in Lanigan, Saskatchewan. There I quickly became production manager, 18 months later I became production manager of an animal feed milling operation in Brooks, Alberta, and was promoted through the ranks to sales manager and assistant division manager.
God was not finished with me yet. Nine years later, He created the opportunity for me to become part owner of a new company in Lethbridge, Alberta. It grew until we were acquired by a large international agri-business company. I am now general manager for their western Canada division.
Though I moved on from Brooks, going there was part of Gods plan for my life. In that city I learned of Full Gospel Business Men through a close friend. A field representative, he invited me to become a member of a new FGBMFI chapter. I looked over the literature and decided membership would provide an excellent witnessing tool.
I saw God alive and well in chapter meetings. Eventually, I traveled across Canada and some parts of the world for FGBMFI, including Africa and Japan.
Ill never forget my last visit to Japan. I had appeared at an FGBMFI convention on that island and was eager to speak there again. However, then a typhoon struck the island. I went to the hotel for our meeting. My heart sank when only nine people showed up.
I spoke. No reaction
Just as I was ready to close the meeting, the Lord urged me to tell the audience of the importance of making a decision for Jesus. I did and an old lady walked forward. She spoke excitedly in Japanese. An interpreter told me she had cancer and the doctors had said that her days were few.
Still disappointed at how the storm had affected the meeting, I didnt pray the most sincere prayer of my life. Yet, she was overcome by the Holy Spirit and fell to the floor, slain in the Spirit.
As she lay there, four or five people walked forward to ask Jesus to save them. I prayed with them and forgot about the woman. Afterwards, I departed for Sri Lanka.
I called home a week later. My wife excitedly read me a FAX from Japan. When the elderly woman tumbled to the floor, she saw a white light and heard a voice telling her she needed to get right with God. When she awoke, others explained how salvation came through Christ.
Not only did she accept Jesus as her Savior, she felt so much better she visited her doctor a few days later. He didnt understand it, but her cancer had shrunk so much he could remove it. Praise the Lord!
In His word, God tells us He will rebuke the devourer and raise us up to be leaders. I know of no better example than what He did for me. Many disapproved and fought the promotions I received over the years but God always came through.
People often say, If you dont compromise with the world, youll never make it up in the corporate world. Sometimes I feel like I swim in shark infested waters, yet Ive survived. And Ive remained true to my faith. My coworkers are aware of and respect my stand and often are willing to listen. God is my refuge. His banner over me is love. If you dont know that love in your life, (see page 7 in this newspaper) repeat the prayer listed there. Its better than money-back guarantee. Its a lifesaving one!
Mervyn Mediwake is General Manager for the Western Division of Central Soya of Canada, Ltd., supervising 26 employees. In the Animal Health and Nutrition Division. He has been an FGBMFI chapter president and field representative. A member of the Lethbridge chapter, he is National Director for the Southern Alberta region and First Vice President of the FGBMFI Canadian Board. Mervyn and Muriel are the parents of Naomi, Anne Marie, and Becky.