India (MNN) — In India, Bibles For The World works to spread God’s Word and support the Church, and children’s ministry is an important part of their mission. Recently, they’ve incorporated a new aspect of Gospel outreach to kids — Awana clubs!
However, there’s a story behind this new development, and it started just over 40 years ago.
In 1974, Bibles For The World’s founders, Drs. Rochunga and Mawii Pudaite, traveled to The First International Congress on World Evangelization held in Lausanne, Switzerland — also known as the Lausanne Congress.
John Pudaite, President and CEO of Bibles For The World, explains, “When my parents attended [the Lausanne Congress], one of the areas of the world that was highlighted as one of the most unreached places in the world was the state of Tripura. And here, it is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from our place in India, and mom and dad and a couple of the Indian leaders that were with them felt so convicted that they had to come all the way to Lausanne, Switzerland to find out that their next-door neighbor was one of the least reached places in the world.
“Following that, mom and dad mobilized 35 young national workers to go as teacher-missionaries into the state of Tripura. They went in with a strategy of using education for evangelism. So each one of them set-up in a different unreached village a little one-room schoolhouse — very simple, bamboo walls and thatch roof — and started teaching the kids there in that village the basics of English and math and things like that. By developing that relationship with the children, they gained the trust of the parents and families. Within two years, every one of those 35 missionaries was able to plant a church.”
In God’s power through Bibles For The World’s ministry, there are now over 100 churches in the state of Tripura. But the Great Commission work is far from over.
The problem now is the cost to start new schools in Tripura has become too high for the ministry. Bamboo walls, thatch roofs, and a willing teacher-missionary are no longer enough to get a schoolhouse up and running.
“When we start to look at projects like this and try to budget them, they come up to at least $80,000-120,000 minimum to get a school like that going. And if our target is to plant churches and reach these people with the message of salvation through Jesus Christ, then that’s just not a viable, sustainable sort of model,” says Pudaite.
Bibles For The World still continues their current education programs in India, but they realized they needed a different strategy for new evangelism initiatives and children’s outreaches.
Then they connected with a collection of ministries under one mission initiative called ZimZam Global whose goal is “to multiply healthy churches among all peoples through children, youth and families”, according to their website. ZimZam Global does this by partnering with churches and ministries to carry out Awana programs for “high-impact child evangelism and discipleship”.
Pudaite says of ZimZam Global, “They derived their name from their initial work in Zimbabwe and Zambia, but now they’ve taken it to other countries in Africa and when we heard what they were doing, we invited them over to India.
“So they came and did the first round of training at our seminary, and we brought together not only our 120-or-so seminary students, but we also brought together teachers, evangelists, some of the leaders from our schools, and pastors from the area, as well as some of the indigenous church leaders to get a taste of this. They brought with them the Awana India leadership.”
Children’s outreach through Awana programs is going to be more sustainable for Bibles For The World’s ministry in the long-run. They hope to see God continue to stir spiritual revival in India through this new initiative.
“Basically, the strategy is going in and starting Awana clubs in villages. There’s very low overhead, very low cost, but in the same way, developing relationships with the children and…building off those to build trust with the families, [and] providing opportunities to share the message of the Gospel with those families. So we are really excited about this.”
The first training with ZimZam Global was in April, and they had 165 people at the training. The next round of training is expected in November.
Click here if you’d like to support Bibles For The World as they make God’s name known throughout India!
And please also be in prayer for their ministry. Pray that through these new Awana clubs, more children and families might be forever changed by the truth and love of their Heavenly Father.
Ultimately, says Pudaite, “Children’s ministry, that’s the focus, using the work that we can do among children to build those relationships with the kids and with their families so we can share the message and the love of Jesus Christ with them.”