Dubai: Community members have paid rich tributes to a veteran pastor and life coach in Dubai who passedd away in Sri Lanka.
Rev Dr Neil Obeyesekere, 69, died of a heart attack on Tuesday during a visit to his home country, according to his church and family.
Dr Obeyesekere’s unexpected death took place just over three months after the family lost his wife Savitri Obeyesekere, 64, on March 24, they told Gulf News.
“He was the beloved husband of the late Savitri Obeyesekere, who stood faithfully by his side throughout their lives,” the family said in a memorial note sent to Gulf News.
“They brought us to this world, taught us the value of life, provided for us, and supported us throughout our entire life. We are forever grateful to our parents. Mom and Dad were not only our home, but also our life. Their happiness meant everything to us. Now they are together in a better place. We miss them a lot,” stated his daughters Dhyneika Jayemanne, Tanika and Shelomi Obeyesekere.
“He was a pioneer in setting up the first charismatic church in Dubai. Additionally, he founded Wow Life Church in Sri Lanka, leaving behind a lasting legacy that has reached every corner of the world. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Neil also served as a National Overseer of the Apostolic Diocese of Ceylon (ADC) and held the position of Head of the ADC Bible School,” according to a statement issued by the church in Sri Lanka.
Colleagues from the New Covenant Church in Dubai said Dr Obeyesekere lived in Dubai for four decades and worked under the Holy Trinity Compound till he retired at the age of 65.
“He continued to be regarded as the head of our church while he worked as a certified optimal life coach. His wife always stood by him in spreading the message of love and tolerance. Our beloved pastor would also be remembered by many for solemnising several marriages in the community,” said Anna Walker.
“Both of them were true leaders and mentors. Their passion to serve and enable people to reach their potential had been their heartbeat. Their journey of tolerance and love was always aligned and in synchronisation with the initiatives of the Rulers of the UAE. It is a legacy for which we are grateful,” added Jeffrey Walker.
John Besterwitch, another pastor, said: “Dr. Neil Obeyesekere, was considered by many as a gifted visionary. Over the past three decades, Dr. Neil and his wife Savi were actively involved in and spearheaded several projects, institutions, and movements in Dubai and Sri Lanka. Dr. Neil, a certified life coach, was a revelatory teacher and mentor. This combination of gifts earned him a reputation for bringing insights into people's lives that invariably enabled them to break free from self-limiting beliefs and any self-imposed restraints in life. He loved people, enjoyed being in their midst, and provided them with the requisite pastoral care.
“His empathy in understanding and serving people made him an excellent counsellor. His warm and humble nature brought light into the lives of many and helped them experience an authentic optimal abundant life. Dr. Neil held two doctorates in Divinity, and many other honours and accolades. Happily married for 36 years, Dr. Neil and Savi were always available to whoever sought their wisdom and counsel,” added Kelcey Besterwitch.
The funeral of Dr Obeyesekere will be held in Borella in Sri Lanka on Saturday.