Pastor Balachandran has a calling that is different. Apart from ministering to the 20 Christians of the Assemblies of God Church in Gonapitiya, the pastor ministers to 140 children in the area. Pastor Balachandran and his wife teach children with special needs and also conduct after-school classes for other children who need help with their studies. The pastor firmly believes that his calling is to minister to these children who hail from poverty-stricken families in the estates. He charges a nominal fee of LKR 300 per child monthly but as a majority of the parents are unable to afford even this fee, the pastor receives only around LKR 1,500 monthly from this venture. “We initially wanted to conduct a free school but there were false rumours that spread among the parents” explains Pastor Balachandran on the beginnings of this school. He goes on to say that when he charged a fee of LKR 50 per student, the children’s attendance dropped as they thought the quality of the education is low. That is when the pastor raised the fee to LKR 300. “But the parents cannot afford to pay this fee. Even three hundred rupees is a great burden for estate workers.”

Pastor Balachandran has a calling that is different. Apart from ministering to the 20 Christians of the Assemblies of God Church in Gonapitiya, the pastor ministers to 140 children in the area. Pastor Balachandran and his wife teach children with special needs and also conduct after-school classes for other children who need help with their studies. The pastor firmly believes that his calling is to minister to these children who hail from poverty-stricken families in the estates. He charges a nominal fee of LKR 300 per child monthly but as a majority of the parents are unable to afford even this fee, the pastor receives only around LKR 1,500 monthly from this venture. “We initially wanted to conduct a free school but there were false rumours that spread among the parents” explains Pastor Balachandran on the beginnings of this school. He goes on to say that when he charged a fee of LKR 50 per student, the children’s attendance dropped as they thought the quality of the education is low. That is when the pastor raised the fee to LKR 300. “But the parents cannot afford to pay this fee. Even three hundred rupees is a great burden for estate workers.”

Despite his good intentions, the pastor faces a lot of opposition for his children’s ministry. “The school masters in the neighbourhood accuse me of converting children but my primary goal is to educate children” says Pastor Balachandran. “I just want to show them the love of Jesus. Even the monks in the area threatened me saying that they would destroy my motor bicycle if I enter into these villages.” The Lord is Pastor Balachandran’s sole hope and succour. The Buddhist monk who caused problems for the pastor was recently transferred and the pastor is confident that the Lord will remove other obstacles in his way too. “I have also been warned against entering certain areas but I believe that the Lord is with me and that He will be my protector.”

Pastor Balachandran is jubilant that he is able to start a livelihood with the help of the support received from the NCEASL. He is confident that the vegetable cultivation he is about to begin will be a success. After completing his schooling, the pastor engaged in cultivation for a period of time and so he has experience in this area. “I believe that this will be the way that the Lord is going to bless me” expresses Pastor Balachandran. “Even though I wanted to engage in cultivation I did not have the monies to invest in it. The NCEASL has helped me a lot and I am thankful that I am provided with this assistance too so that I can continue my ministry.” He has great plans for his new venture. “I am fully dedicated to my ministry work and this cultivation won’t take me away from it. I can come to see the crops in the evenings or in the morning. My uncle will water the crops daily and help me with the cultivation. This will be a huge support to my ministry work.” He hopes to grow carrots and Chinese vegetables like daikon and Chinese cabbages in the vegetable plot spread across half an acre of land. Pastor Balachandran recalls the parable of talents as he promises to develop whatever he received to engage in this livelihood. “I will double whatever I receive and develop this cultivation” he exclaims.

In 2018, the Religious Liberty Commission of the NCEASL provided 25 pastors with assistance to begin livelihoods. These recipients were identified from the Central, Eastern, Southern and Western Provinces of Sri Lanka.