Children’s Ministry Update
May to June 2016
CHildren’s Gospel Clubs
Spring was a season of joy in rural villages around South Asia! In May, 800,000 children, representing nine different Indian languages and Singlalese (spoken in Sri Lanka), participated in Children’s Gospel Clubs (CGCs). In order to educate them about Jesus, 64,000 teachers were trained in March and April. Open air clubs were held for seven days from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to kick off the summer.
Children attending CGC programs are divided into four age-based groups with a minimum of two trained leaders in each classroom. Beginner classes reach children ages 3-6 with an average of 20 children per class, Primary classes reach ages 6-9 with an average of 35 per class, Junior classes reach ages 9-12 with an average of 30 children per class, and Senior classes reach ages 12-15 with an average of 15 per class.
Every day students were taught a different lesson surrounding the theme “Growing in Christ” as described in 2 Peter 3:18. The lessons are designed so even young children can understand important truths as they are introduced to Jesus, some for the first time.
Learning about Jesus and what he taught brought happiness to the lives of many children this summer. Echoing the experience of numerous children, one student, age 12, remarked, “I am very happy; I got new friends and I learned about the true God. I accepted Christ into my life and I am very happy to be a child of God. I will live for Christ.”
As the academic year begins in India, CGC teachers and volunteers will continue to meet weekly. These regular meetings over the next year will enable the children who came to know the Lord this summer to grow strong in him during the academic year.
The impact of this children’s ministry goes far beyond the children alone: influencing and transforming entire families. The last day of the summer program focused specifically on the children’s friends and family. Parents came to see what their children had been learning and many were captivated by the love of Christ as well. Twins who attended a club explained that while they have accepted Christ and have been going to CGCs for the past three summers, their parents would not allow them to continue during the school year. However, because of the change the parents saw in their children, they now attend church occasionally as an entire family.
CGCs have a multi-generational effect as former students return as young adults to help lead the programs. As one 24-year-old former CGC student began volunteering, he received a burden to start a Sunday church service in his area to serve all of the children who had come to the Lord. It began small, but has now grown into a church of 48 children! While the church faces much opposition from other villagers, he says, “When I feel down, these 48 small soldiers are my prayer warriors. They give me so much strength to go on for the Lord.” Because of his faithful ministry and the far-reaching impact of this club, the church now has 17 adult believers, two of whom are ready to be baptized. Praise the Lord for how he has used these CGC programs!
At IGL we understand investing in our present generation of children has a profound impact on tomorrow. As such, IGL conducted Leadership Training Classes for three weeks in May. Ranjith, a 13-year-old boy from Mercy Home, attended the Leadership Training at Sharon Gardens held from May 2 to May 22. At first, he didn’t show any enthusiasm about participating in the training for fear of losing a majority of his summer vacation and the prospect of 21 days away from his friends at Mercy Home. Fifty seven children from various homes, also with little interest in the training, joined him.
On the first day of training, the children were asked to introduce themselves. Ranjith‘s shyness, stage fright and low self-confidence prevented him from even introducing himself to the other children. The teachers led the children in morning devotions from the Bible, exercise time and for the first six days, Children’s Gospel Club (CGC) classes. In these classes they learned new songs with hand motions, stories from scripture and memory verses. Slowly, Ranjith and the other children began showing interest.
Through the Bible stories, real life stories of missionaries, moral teachings and life skill classes on the topic “I am Willing to Change”, God gradually transformed Ranjith, helping him leave his fear and shyness behind. One day, he even came forward to sing a solo, demonstrating a drastic change in his attitude! The old Ranjith would not have been so brave. Ranjith became very attentive as he and the other children learned basics in music, craft making and tailoring. He also gained a clear picture of the entire Bible through “Get the Picture” Bible study.
Ranjith also participated in competitions and won some prizes, further boosting his confidence. He and all the children climbed to the top of the Yercaud* hill with ease through God’s strength. All the children very much enjoyed the sight-seeing and boating in Yercaud and thanked God for all their experiences.
The children enthusiastically participated in the closing program on the final day of the training. Ranjith shared that he was drastically transformed through the training, developing more confidence to face the struggles of this world with the help of our Lord Almighty. Similar thoughts were echoed by the other children. They all grew in their spiritual knowledge and gained confidence to love others.
We are thankful for the staff and volunteers at the training whom God used greatly in the lives of the children. This was the beginning of a process that we pray the Lord will use to continue transforming them into godly leaders for the future generation.
House Parent Training
Once a year, house parents from all IGL’s Children’s Homes gather for a time of learning and prayer at the Annual House Parents’ Training. This year the training was held from May 24 to May 28. Each morning the house parents gathered for devotions centered on “Embracing the Vision” (Acts 26:19). Thirty three house parents from different parts of South Asia gathered to learn and refocus together on a vision of their roles, responsibilities and overall development of their homes.
Led by experts from various fields on community and child development, this training emphasized relevant topics such as the role of a house parent, foundations of leadership, basic first aid for children, spiritual development, home maintenance, the sponsorship program, communication and children’s rights. The training equipped staff by providing the latest information on child care and development. The house parents received an even clearer understanding of the nature of children’s ministry with regard to building God’s Kingdom through their role as house parents. Apart from the teachings, they also visited Yercaud as a fun trip together. It was a wonderful time for the house parents to have fun and to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ.
Feedback from the House Parent Training
Mangayarkarasi expressed her heartfelt thanks to God for the personal encouragement she received during the House Parents’ Training and her vision to continue to do children’s ministry.
Jeyanthimala from Bethel Care Home said that the first aid class was very useful and she learned many things from it. Praise God for choosing that subject for the training.
Admitting new children to IGL’s CHildren’s homes
At the beginning of the new academic year, there is always a long line of parents in front of the IGL office in Salem hoping to register their children for a place at one of our homes. All of the parents are there for the same reason: they are from very poor backgrounds and cannot afford to meet their children’s basic physical and educational needs. Most parents hear about the opportunity to enroll their children at an IGL home from neighbors or the pastor in their village. They hear IGL takes good care of children, providing holistic care for them.
Sathya, the mother of 8 year old Chandru and younger brother Sathriyan, was waiting in the admission line. Her son Chandru had been living in an IGL home for the past three years. Her husband works for daily wages, but their income is not sufficient enough to meet the basic needs of their children. Since moving to an IGL home, Chandru is well care for and additionally has done well in his studies. Chandru’s positive experience led his mother back to the IGL office to admit Chandru’s younger brother Sathriyan into an IGL home. Chandru’s parents are very happy about the care and nurture given by IGL and are also happy about the morals taught to their child through Bible stories and songs. They are very keen to listen to Chandru talk about Christ’s love and they are happy to join him in prayer when he prays at his home. Slowly, they are beginning to experience the love of Christ through Chandru. Now they are very happy and sure that both of their sons will have a bright future because of IGL’s ministry to them.
Fathima Banu, mother of two, was also waiting in line for admission. She arrived worrying and questioning if her son Anish would be admitted to an IGL home. In the past, she had been happy with her family; Anish was studying in a private school because her husband was earning good money through his truck transport business. But her life was suddenly flipped upside down after her husband suffered financial loss in his business and subsequently abandoned her and her children. She found employment at a garment factory, but her income was not sufficient to provide for her children’s education. With nowhere to go and feeling helpless, she learned about IGL through someone at work. Only allowing herself a little hope, she came to IGL to ask for her son’s admission. When her request was granted, she felt lighthearted and thankful to IGL for admitting him to a home, confident that Anish would receive wonderful care.
- Thank God for his help conducting CGCs, Leadership Training and House Parent’s Training.
- For his guidance in reaching 800,000 children through CGC programs and 57 children through the summer Leadership Training.
- For all his provisions and protection through the last academic year.
- For all the new students admitted to IGL Children’s Homes.
- For the growth of the children’s ministry in the churches in the Tranqupar region.
- For the children who attended a CGC for the first time and the children who attended the Leadership Training.
- For the house parents and superintendents.
- For the children in the homes to grow spiritually and academically.
Did you know?
Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi says that the lives of more than 160 million children are at stake due to the drought in India. Girls are being impacted the most as they are pulled from school to help fetch water or to take care of younger siblings while their mothers get water. Official estimates indicate that approximately 17 million children in India are working.
A study found that children were sent to work by force and not by choice. They were forced mostly by parents, but recruiters often play a critical role during the period of time when parents are making these important decisions. Through IGL’s children’s ministry, we are rescuing children and giving them an opportunity for education, love and care.
* Yercaud is a hill in Tamil Nadu, a popular tourist destination with a lake.