India (MNN) — Last year, more than one million children came to Christ because of Children's Bible Clubs created by Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India.
"One of the doors into Indian hearts is their love for their children and their desire for them to succeed," said Dave Stravers of Mission India. Many of the children come from poverty-stricken families and villages or from the Dalit caste.
Mission India trains local church volunteers to conduct ten day clubs. Often these clubs will become an after school program where children between the ages of 4 and 18 receive practical help. This may include lessons on how to brush your teeth and wash your hair but always includes memory verses, sharing Bible stories and help with homework.
"The children come home from the club one day with their hair washed and their faces clean, and parents can really sense the care and love that Christian teachers have for their kids," said Stravers.
While people in India are very open to the Gospel today, the practical help the club offers children breaks down one more barrier. Many Hindu families have come to Christ because of the clubs. "The best evangelists in India today are the children themselves. The children go home singing the Gospel songs that they learned, telling the Bible stories, and they'll go home and tell their parents ‘This is how we pray to Jesus,'" said Stravers.
Because of the children's prayers and their enthusiasm, many churches have been planted as a result of the clubs. "Last year, we actually saw more than 5,000 new churches start through these after-school clubs. So we're hoping to focus more on this so that new churches can get established in villages that don't have a church," Stravers said.
Last year, Mission India reached just more than four million children. "We could probably reach ten million if we had the funds," said Stravers. It costs just one dollar to send a child to Children's Bible Club, and there is a long list of villages waiting to establish a club.