India (MNN) — In some places, children do not even know what it means to be a child.
Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India is working against that with Children’s Bible Clubs in India during the months of April and May.
Lindsay Ackerman of Mission India says, “A lot of India’s kids don’t have an opportunity for what we might consider a traditional childhood. Millions of kids work at home; they might be very responsible for household chores and caring for younger siblings, especially if their parents are working all day in the fields.”
If kids in rural areas do get to go to school,they will only attend a couple of years before they are needed back at home to take care of animals and other chores. Oftentimes, the jobs ascribed them are dangerous.
“Childhood in India is not always the most joyful existence,” Ackerman says. “One of the things our Children’s Bible Clubs bring to these communities is an opportunity for the kids to just have some fun together. They come every day for ten days: they get to play games, they do skits, they sing songs.”
The children get to experience an environment where adults care for them as children, and where they can play with others. More importantly, the children get to hear the Gospel.
“For many of these kids, this is the first time they’ve ever heard about Jesus,” Ackerman explains. But the Gospel doesn’t stop when it reaches the ears of the young ones. “These kids are hearing the Good News, and often their parents will tag along.”
The parents are often curious about what their children are learning. At the end of each program, the children do a performance with skits and songs to present the Gospel to their family.
The children bring home God’s Word in their hearts, and their club leaders reinforce what the children tell their family. Often the leaders will visit homes in the evening to develop relationships and encourage the parents.
Ackerman explains, “Those relationships that develop continue on long after the club ends because our volunteer leaders are part of the local church or part of a church in a nearby community that’s been working to share the Gospel.” These relationships become discipleship opportunities.
The Gospel is important not only to give hope to children leading adult lives: it is a source of truth amid multiple other religions. “What most people don’t think of is the fact that India actually is one of the most Muslim populated nations of our world. There are actually over 170 million Muslims in India. So this represents a unique opportunity to reach the people of the Muslim faith.”
One example of this is Sukant, a boy born into a Muslim family. His dad was out of the picture, and at a young age Sukant took to playing in the streets. He took up the habits of swearing and stealing, behavior that disturbed his mother. But she wasn’t sure what to do.
The door opened for him to attend one of Mission India’s Bible clubs in his neighborhood. Hesitant at first, Sukant soon got used to the kindness of the adults there and began to play with the other kids.
When he heard about Jesus, his behavior changed drastically, drawing the attention of his family. Sukant and his aunt accepted Christ as their Savior, and Sukant has a strong desire for the rest of his family to know Christ as well.
Right now, every dollar you contribute to Children’s Bible Clubs will be matched. For $5 you could make it possible for 10 more children to hear about the love of God. For $5 you have the potential to open the eyes of 10 families that are caught in the deceit of false religions.
Ackerman says, “We would just really ask for prayer for the Bible Club leaders as they enter the lives of these children, and that they would be encouraged as they pray for them and get to know the parents.” She also asks that you pray that the parents and their children will have open hearts ready to receive Jesus.