India (MNN) — "This year we will reach 4.5 million children–Hindu and Muslim children–with Children's Bible Clubs," said Dave Stravers of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India.
Since most of these children come from families that live on less than a dollar a day, the Bible clubs do more than teach memory verses and share Bible stories. They teach the kids practical
things like brushing their teeth and combing their hair. "During one day, they even take the kids down to the village pump and show the kids how to wash their shirts. So the kids go home to their parents, maybe having their face washed for the first time in a week or two, and parents really like it," said Stravers.
The most recent report from their after-school clubs where children also learn about the
Gospel, is that they had 170,000 decisions for Christ, said Stravers. "The amazing thing for us was that more than half of those decisions were the parents of children. So children are actually taking the Gospel home to their parents, teaching them to pray to Jesus, telling them the Bible stories. The parents come to the sponsors. There's usually a worship service offered on Sundays, and the parents hear the Gospel, and they also come
In the long-term, this seems like an unusually open response to the Gospel. But in the past few years, India has been opening dramatically to the Gospel. Opposition, however, is still a real problem since the upper caste is not fond of the lower castes becoming Christians, and parents have been threatened or even beaten up. "It's hard
for the extremists to oppose this because people in India love their children, and they know that these clubs are actually beneficial to their kids and to the family. So aside from hearing the Gospel, they see the practical benefits. So they're very supportive of the clubs. In most places, the opposition is not able to stop the ministry."
Kanchan is a 9-year-old girl who fell very ill before she began attending the Children's Bible Clubs. When the local Hindu temple couldn't help her, the Bible club began praying for her. Within two days she became well. Knowing that the club was praying for her, the parents and Kanchan began attending the local church and are now believers.
There are more than 150,000 Indian volunteers leading these clubs this summer. "They go into a neighborhood where there are no believers and hold the clubs, usually in the open air or a public place, and all the participants are non-Christians. It becomes an evangelistic outreach.
It's really, extremely effective. We've actually had thousands of new churches started in the past year through these Bible clubs," said Stravers.
Pray for India which is so willing to hear the Gospel right now. Consider getting involved: it costs just $1
to get a child enrolled in a club.