Here we feature some of the faces you’ll see around Harvest City Church and dig a bit deeper into who they are and how they live for Christ in their daily lives.
Tell us a little about yourselves
Melani: We’ve been married for 13 years and have two sons, Nimantha and Chimantha. You can’t miss them, they’re both cheeky with big smiles! We’ve been at Harvest City Church for 3 years. I’m studying Children, Families and Community Health Lifestyles at DMU, and Amith is an electrician.
How did you come to know God?
Melani: Neil and Ruth (elders at Harvest City Church) invited me. Ruth invited me continuously for a year, and every time I went to Amith he refused. Then one day he said yes. That’s the day when Shiloh (Neill and Ruth’s son) was born. Amith just said, ‘We didn’t know Shiloh was born, shall we go?’ When we came we heard Pastor Chip preach and we heard Sarah singing worship, and we felt Jesus’ love. That minute I gave my heart to Jesus and I was in tears. I felt Jesus’ love.
Amith: I come from a Buddhist background so I didn’t know Jesus, but I went to a Christian college. I lived in France for a while and there were no Buddhist temples nearby, so I used to go to church more often than a Buddhist temple. Since we came to Harvest City Church we have changed, we feel like Jesus loves us more than anything in this universe. The love of people in the church is really amazing. Believing in Jesus is the best thing I’ve ever done.
Melani: The Bible says your family will abandon you, but Jesus will be there. And for us it really happened. Everybody left us, but Jesus gave us a big family. Now we feel like we’ve got a family even though we never really had one. It’s not our own blood but it’s God’s family. We feel very loved now.
Amith: Even the children don’t want to miss Sunday. I’ve got a brother in London and sometimes I’ll say, ‘Ok, shall we go and visit?’ but the kids say any day but Sunday. When we decide to go on holiday they say ‘Yeah, we’ll start on Monday and come back on Saturday so we won’t miss Sunday.’
In what ways have you changed since becoming a Christian?
Amith: Numerous ways! I think the major thing for me is changing my lifestyle. I used to be an alcoholic and I stopped drinking very quickly since I wanted to have Jesus in my life. So I thought that I’d start with that; stop drinking and start loving my children and my wife more. So that was the first change for me. There are loads of changes.
Melani: Amith used to be a very angry person. Now he’s so calm and he’s such a blessing for the family. I used to be a Catholic and I knew Jesus but I never had a relationship with Him. I never knew how to pray. I prayed looking at a book but I never had a closeness, I never felt Jesus. I used to love people but not the way I do now. Since becoming a Christian I love more.
You both had to make some major changes, coming from different religious backgrounds and addictions. Did you struggle with changing your lifestyle?
Amith: Yes, I did struggle. It was so hard, not easy at all. But you have to be willing. You have to have courage to stay focussed on Jesus and get help. My wife helped me and my kids, more my wife’s unconditional love that helped me get through all the difficulties that I was having. Especially when I wanted to have a drink, she just stayed and cuddled me and helped me focus. And Jesus. Every time I wanted to have a drink I thought of Him.
What sort of things did you battle with going through your lifestyle change?
Amith: I was very angry all the time. My kids and my wife didn’t come near me. They would all go upstairs and watch TV; I would stay downstairs and be so angry. My boys thought that I might be angry with them and that I might hit them or punish them for no reason. My wife would think that I might have an argument with her for no reason. When I stopped drinking things started changing and I could see that what I did before was wrong.
Melani: Our children prayed a lot. I can remember when Amith was struggling with smoking, Chimanatha one day closed the living room door and prayed with him. Amith said he felt goose bumps and everything. He had lots of support and love from God. Chimantha was 6 or 7 then; we didn’t know how he knew to do that. A lot of people are struggling with addictions to all sorts of things.
What advice would you give to help them out of their situation/addiction?
Amith: We have so many family members in Harvest City Church. There are loads of people who are willing to help and talk and encourage. With this family you can’t go wrong.
Melani: I think prayer. After giving up drinking, Amith could sit with his friends and not drink. It was amazing! I thought he would falter, but he saw how stupid the drinking was. He would get up early in the morning and from the start of the day he would sing worship songs. The more time he spent with Jesus, the more Jesus helped him come out of his addiction. I have been with Amith for 13 years, I tried everything but I couldn’t do it. I loved him, but I think with Jesus nothing is impossible. You can break every chain. It’s all because we trust Jesus that everything went out; addiction, sicknesses. There’s only one person who can help. It’s Jesus.
Amith serves on the stewarding team and helps out wherever he can. Melani is a JC teacher and helps with our toddler group, Cafe Mama.