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Home  >  Features  >  Youth Column: This Church Family is Unique

Features

Youth Column: This Church Family is Unique

Youth Column: This Church Family is Unique

Tuesday September 3 2019

Buwanika Weerasinha, a member of the Scots Kirk, Colombo, Sri Lanka, tells her faith story.


The story of how St Andrew’s Scots Kirk, Colombo, became my family’s church is an interesting one.

My mother is a Christian and my father Buddhist. When they wanted to get married they wanted to celebrate this special day with both Christian and Buddhist traditions. My mother’s hometown church refused to conduct the wedding unless my father converted to Christianity, to which he replied ‘I shouldn’t become a Christian because I want a church wedding, I should become a Christian because of faith’.

So the hunt began for a church that would allow a ‘mixed marriage’, when they came across St Andrew’s Colombo. The minister agreed to conduct a church wedding and perform a blessing, and from that day onwards St Andrew’s became our church.

As it was Sri Lankan tradition for children to take up their father’s religion, my brother and I were recognised as Buddhist from birth. But my parents agreed that we should be exposed and educated about both religions and we used to go to church as one family and also the temple as one family. As a child, I loved being both Buddhist and Christian, because it meant more presents and gifts during the various traditions and holidays.

As I grew up, I found my faith in God growing too. I felt God’s presence and grace throughout my life and in overcoming many challenges. And by the time I turned 19 I found myself identifying as a Christian instead of being the ‘mixed religion kid’. And then I finally knew I was ready to be baptised and confirmed into God’s family. I spoke to my parents about my feelings and they supported my decision.

Shortly afterwards I left Sri Lanka to complete my flight training in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, and my baptism was postponed. But my faith continued to grow and when I was in Tulsa the closest church happened to be a St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church with the sweetest, kindest and most loving pastor named Ann Shell Lamar. As I walked shyly through the door she embraced me and I felt I had known her a lifetime. I simply could not believe that I found another St Andrew’s church where I felt at home. During my eight-month stay I made friends for life at this church, with whom I still keep in touch.

When I returned to Sri Lanka my priority became my career as I spent my time studying to become a commercial pilot at Sri Lankan Airlines. Baptised or not, my connection with God was becoming stronger and my faith continued to grow. The warm welcoming culture at St Andrew’s made me feel at home and part of the church, baptised or not.

Once I finished my studies our church became vacant and my baptism was further delayed. But this didn’t stop me from growing in the church, I went from youth group member to leader, and enjoyed every moment of it and learned so much.

Just as all good things take time, it was only last year at the age of 24 that I was both baptised and confirmed on Easter Sunday by the Rev Jim Sharp, who conducted confirmation classes on Skype before he got to Sri Lanka for the ceremonial day. That day will always hold a special place in my heart because what I felt emotionally with God was now official.

This year I was privileged to attend the International Youth Presbytery in Rotterdam and the General Assembly in Edinburgh. These two experiences taught me so much and I was so happy to connect with other youth of faith.

At the General Assembly, when so many people came up to me and spoke of their sadness about the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and told me how they had offered prayers, tied white ribbons, etc, I truly felt part of the Church of Scotland. Family, even though we are a tiny island so far away. Even though the General Assembly is very formal business, the warmness and love never ceased in the building even through the most heated debates. The jelly babies and sweeties helped too!

I took back so many fond memories back to Sri Lanka from Edinburgh and I felt truly blessed to be part of the Church of Scotland family. A family full of love, acceptance, caring and understanding. This church family is unique and its love universal.


If you are under 30 and involved in the Church of Scotland, and would be interested in writing for this column, please email us on magazine@lifeandwork.org

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