In March 2013, Sri Lankan Pastor Dayaratne Kodituwakku and his wife, Mala, were caring for more than 130 children in Agape Children’s Village. A few days later, law enforcers began taking the children from Agape after local Buddhists falsely accused the orphanage of mistreating the youngsters. Now Dayaratne and Mala are appealing to get them back.
In 2001, Dayaratne and Mala responded to God’s call to take in children who had been orphaned, abandoned and abused. Together they opened an orphanage called Agape Children’s Village in Southern Sri Lanka. Cottages were built, rice cooked, and swings erected.
Agape flourished. The children who were scarred and timid began smiling, shouting, and running around. In 2010, Agape was recognised by the government as the best orphanage in the south of Sri Lanka.
But early on, Buddhist monks from the neighbouring monastery began verbally abusing Dayaratne. They filed a complaint to court, accusing him of being a terrorist leader; the orphanage was not an orphanage but ‘a breeding centre for Christians’.
In March 2013, when a few of Agape’s teenaged boys were tending a vegetable patch, some of Dayaratne’s neighbours, influenced by the local monks, took the boys and filmed them as they forced the boys to catch and slaughter pigs. The neighbours leaked the footage to the media and claimed that Dayaratne and the workers at the orphanage were using the children for forced labour.
Though the children vehemently denied that any abuse was taking place, the National Child Protection Authority took the children away and Dayaratne’s reputation was damaged. “How they cried,” said Dayaratne. “It was painful.” Some of the children were taken back to abusive families, others had to fend for themselves on the streets.
Dayaratne and Mala have since filed an appeal for the orphanage to be reopened. The next hearing is scheduled for 14 July 2016. Though the authorities are dragging out the case, the couple continue to visit some of their children who are now living on the streets, and the older ones they help with vocational training. They are also educating children in rural areas.
Encourage Pastor Dayaratne and Sister Mala to continue ministering to Sri Lanka’s children today. Let us remind them that we are one with them in prayer as they serve and wait, for we belong to one body in Christ.
Please note that this campaign closes at the end of June 2016. Thank you.
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imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.