Lalitha knew what kind of man she would marry—“a tall and handsome chap.” But when she finally met “the one,” she was also “very much impressed by his preaching, teaching, singing, and his gentleness.”
For his part, Pastor Paul couldn’t help but notice the young church school teacher who was very active in all of the church activities—preaching and teaching Sabbath School classes for the youth and adults in his church, located in Kovilpatti, India. Another pastor in the area acted as mediator for the hopeful couple, contacting both Lalitha’s and Paul’s parents to obtain permission for them to marry. Approval was given, and the two were married in Kovilpatti on April 14, 1988.
Exactly one year later—April 14, 1989—Lalitha and Paul received their “first anniversary gift from God,” a baby boy whom they named Joe. Two years later, another gift came when their daughter, Jane, was born. Joe, now 23, is a nursing graduate working at the Manipal Medical College in Karnataka, India. Jane, 21, is completing her nursing studies at the J.K.K. Nattraja College of Nursing in Tamil Nadu.
A HEART FOR MINISTRY
For the past 24 years, Lalitha and Paul have been serving and ministering in various capacities including pastor, departmental directors, secretary, and regional director. Presently, Paul is serving as the director of Theni-Periyakulam Region for the Adventist Church in India. Lalitha is in charge of a “small school” of 300 children in grades Pre-K through 5. In addition to her school responsibilities, she also serves as the director of women’s ministries, children’s ministries, and the Shepherdess department.
In the evenings, Lalitha enjoys going with her husband for home visitations. “A visit can do so much to help or comfort a troubled soul,” she said. When their children were young, Lalitha would take them along “so that they could learn from an early age the blessing of giving to and caring for others.”
Lalitha also accompanies her husband to funeral services and has a quiet ministry for those in grief. “I don’t say anything special to the mourning, but I just sit with them, and my presence alone can bring them comfort, letting them know that we care for them.”
When at home, Lalitha enjoys gardening, where she grows greens, brinjals (Indian eggplant), bitter gourds, tomatoes, bananas, green chilies, and more. Most of the family’s vegetables come from the garden, where Lalitha spends a little time each morning and evening watering and nurturing her plants. “They are good for our health. And I save lots of money, too,” she adds.
While she loves ministry, Lalitha has learned that there are many challenges to being a pastor’s spouse, including being a good example and living up to what is preached. In addition, she found that bringing up children in the pastoral family was a great task. “Members expected our children to take part in church activities such as singing, reciting memory verses and Bible passages, and taking part in temperance speech and poster contests.” But in addition to these expectations, Lalitha and Paul wanted to teach their children the will of the Lord and to show them how to serve Him faithfully. As the children were growing up, Lalitha was constantly on her knees, crying to the Lord for His wisdom and for the well-being of her children. “It was my belief that if I didn’t cry before the Lord today, they [the children] would make me cry in the later part of my life,” she says.
As a result of much prayer, Lalitha says that “the Lord has blessed us with God-fearing and well-disciplined children.” In addition, they are healthy and physically fit, musical, and meritorious in their college studies and other extracurricular activities.
During his first two years of university studies, their eldest child, Joe, faced a difficult challenge when his exams were scheduled on Sabbath. However, he decided to be faithful to God and refused to sit for his exams on that day, passing a greater test than what the university was providing. As a result, God honored Joe, who was later sponsored by his university to visit Middlesex University in London, England.
Although both children are now grown, the Paulmoneys continue to have young children in their home. In 2003 when Paul and Lalitha were returning home from shopping, their hearts were deeply touched when they saw two little ones—a brother and sister—sleeping on the streets during the winter. When they spoke with the children, they learned that the children’s mother had simply left them on the street and absconded. They had no idea where she was. The Paulmoneys brought the brother and sister home with them and put them in school. Now they are in the eighth and sixth grades.
Two other boys were taken in by Lalitha and Paul as well. One recently graduated from a nearby Adventist academy and is now pursuing theology at Spicer Memorial College, and the other boy is in tenth grade. “It gives us great satisfaction and immense pleasure when we help the poor and needy,” Lalitha says. “We can see the rays of hope in their faces. We always tell them that Jesus loves and cares for them.”
Looking to Jesus as their example, Lalitha and her family seek to practice compassion. “Jesus did not preach about compassion, but He was very compassionate,” she says. “When someone is compassionate, a cost is to be paid. Jesus gave Himself on the cross for the whole humanity. But compassion can also be a smile, a prayer, a drink, a meal, a comforting touch. It can be giving money, shelter, clothing, time, care, tears, forgiveness, mercy, peace, and comfort.
“We are to show our love and compassion through our deeds and kindness. We want to let others see Jesus in our lives through our compassion.”
Another way that Lalitha is showing compassion is through her local church’s adult literacy program, which conducts classes at 15 centers in the region. More than 300 students are attending, and through these classes five branch Sabbath Schools have been started, six Bible study groups are meeting, and seven people are getting ready to be baptized.
“We are very much indebted to our church because we have been blessed through it,” Lalitha says. “This remnant church has shown us the Way and the Truth for life eternal. As Adventist Christians, each one of us has the responsibility of sharing the desire of our Lord Jesus Christ that the gospel should be preached to all nations, kindred, tongues, and people. Let us be co-laborers with God in finishing up the gospel work.”