India (MNN) — There's a saying that goes: '"Imitation is the sincerest (form) of flattery."
In this case, it's a new twist to Gospel work
in India. President of Grand Rapids,
Michigan-based Mission India, Dave Stravers, explains, "The
Bible Club ministry is so effective that
Hindu leaders in this area are trying to copy it by forming their own
clubs for children: they're forming Hindu clubs."
It's a reaction sparked by the growth of the Church in the
area and new churches that are springing up. "India is open to Christ as never before in history, says Stravers. "Especially Indian Christians are reaching their communities: Muslim
families, Hindu families through Children's Bible Clubs, which we help them to
organize. We provide them with materials and training."
Right now, this anti-Christian response is an isolated
case. The region where it's occurring is
in South India where Mission India has a cluster of three Children's Bible
Clubs in a group of neighboring villages.
Usually, radicals try to intimidate leaders and threaten the
families that are sending their children to the Bible Clubs. However, this time, "They offer games,
help with homework, and provide school supplies like our own clubs do, but their teaching
is from the Hindu religious texts", says Stravers. Their tactic has been successful, too. "In one village where we had a Bible
Club going strong, 15 of the children were induced to leave the Children's
Bible Club and start attending the 'swadhyay' class instead."
The approach is similar to the madrasas that Muslims use,
Stravers warns. "The objective is to make the children militantly
anti-Christian. The clubs are called 'swadhyay' classes–'swadhyay' means study.
They are taught to recite mantras to Hindu idols, and they're taught to resist
Other effects–aside from conflicting messages in a targeted
mission field: "The Christian leaders in that village are somewhat
discouraged by this. It's an interesting aspect of the spiritual battle that's
going on in India."
Children's Bible Clubs are introduced in a community through
a 10-day program. Some have extended to year-long Clubs. The clubs also inspire children to serve
their communities and become future leaders. The clubs also inspire children to serve their
communities and become future leaders.
With such an aggressive tactic facing Bible Club leaders and
pastors in this ministry area, Stravers urges prayer as the most powerful
course of action. "Pray for courage for the leaders and for the parents that
want their children to go to these clubs, to get help with their homework and
who don't object to the Christian teaching."
We have links to the Children's Bible Club ministries at our
Featured Links Section.