India (MNN) — What comes to mind when you hear the words, “church planting”? It probably isn’t “kids’ ministry” but John Pudaite with Bibles For The World says the two are a natural fit.
This fall, BFTW is pairing an Awana program with their church planting ministry in India.
“We are very excited because, through an Awana program like this, we can build up relationships with the children and thereby we can gain the trust of the families…that provides opportunities to share the Gospel.”
A new twist for an old ministry
Bibles For The World partners with like-minded ministries to put God’s Word in the hands of people who don’t have it. In the ministry’s early days, Pudaite recalls, providing Christian education was one way they “broke ground” in India’s unreached communities.
First, BFTW would construct a one-room schoolhouse in the community. A church planter/teacher would begin work once the building was up, educating students and building relationships with parents. In time, the church planter/teacher became part of the community, and hearts began opening to the Gospel message.
“We were able to plant 35 churches within the span of just two to three years,” Pudaite says.
However, as time went on, the demands for education shifted. Rural communities still wanted their children to receive an education, but they wanted school to be taught in a certain way.
“People (villagers) want brick-and-mortar buildings, a teacher for every class, all teachers [to] be college graduates,” Pudaite explains. “These demands are very difficult to meet as a ministry, and they must be met before the community will give up land to build a school on.
“So, we’ve been searching for an alternative to the schoolhouse approach, and we found it in Awana.”
Through a partnership with ZimZam Global, BFTW’s Gospel workers and seminary students are learning how to use children’s ministry for church planting. The goal is to set a solid foundation so that the Awana program can begin in the fall.
“We have over 300 (indigenous) churches working with us, and we’re hoping we can start at least 20 to 30 [Awana] programs.”
Your prayers needed
The Good News of Jesus remains a foreign concept in many rural Indian villages. Please pray that the Awana program will help reduce the villagers’ fear and hostility towards church planters.
“Our workers will face some opposition, so we just need our friends in America to pray for them…that they may stay wise as serpents and harmless as doves as they go out and reach out with the love of Christ.”
Pray also that hearts will be softened to receive the truth of the Gospel.