Pastor Dayaratne and his wife Mala opened Agape Children’s Village in Sri Lanka in 2001. They raised each child who came under their care as their own. For 12 years, Agape Children’s home flourished and by 2010, it was recognized as the best orphanage in southern Sri Lanka. And then in April of 2013, due to government pressure and a media smear campaign, Agape Children’s Village was forced to close. It wasn’t until May of this year that they were allowed to reopen and all charges against the home and against Pastor Dayaratne were dropped.
And now, Pastor Dayaratne has met with the Probation Commissioner and has officially requested to have the children returned who were taken away. The Commissioner is very supportive of him and has asked all his officials to help and support Pastor Dayaratne in the future.
At the time of the incident only about 20 children had been relocated in children’s homes by the government. The vast majority of the children were sent back to their (unstable) homes. Pastor Dayaratne has little hope of getting these children back as they have returned to fishing, thievery (ending in prison), selling things on the streets, and prostitution, among other things.
Currently he has about eight of the original children with him, ages of 12-17 yrs. They are still in school. Once they complete schooling, he has plans to send them to a vocational training course for skills training. He also conducts free English classes in nearby villages where some of his children are scattered. Altogether, including those in English classes, he has about 150 students. He also feeds some children who come from extremely poor homes with a simple meal.
October 1st is International Children’s Day and Dayaratne plans to have the children who attend these classes hold posters with messages for parents and messages about children’s rights and child protection. He plans to invite the area Police, Probation officers and the District Secretary for this event with media coverage.
In the meantime, he is working on small renovations to the children’s home which has been quite neglected. Hopefully, this will give him time before the courts start to send them new groups of children.
Praise the Lord for these developments and please continue to pray for Pastor Dayaratne and his ministry.
Father, we thank and praise You for restoring this important ministry to Pastor Dayaratne and his wife Mala. Thank You for those eight children who have returned to live and study at Agape. We pray for them as You continue to grow them into young men and women who will love and serve You all their lives. We grieve over the children who were returned to their homes, who have returned to hopelessness, crime, and a destructive lifestyle. Remind them of the care they received at this home and open their eyes to see Your presence in this couple. Draw them into saving faith in the power of the Holy Spirit. We pray for those children You will be bringing to them and for the redeeming impact they must surely have on their community. Bless them richly, Father, with bountiful fruit from their labor. In the name of Jesus, who restores our souls and leads us in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake (from Ps 23). Amen.