We recently completed our 12th consecutive year of Children’s Bible Schools in Southern India—by God’s grace! At one point, I looked out on a sea of faces composing the children in my senior class—children between the ages of 10 and 15 years. It occurred to me at that moment that many of those children were not even born yet when we began the ministry there 12 years ago. Others were in the wee little stages of their life at that time and have grown up coming to the program year after year. Among those are a few brilliant young ladies who now stay right by our side during the teaching time in order to translate every word of the message to the children. They recall—with smiling faces—that they were in the junior class 12 years ago, graduated to the seniors, and are now an integral part of the ministry! We have also reached the point where we are having "second generation" children, that is, little children whose mommies and daddies were once in the children’s classes themselves. Again, all by God’s grace!
We began the work in India with one week of ministry in the villages. The first morning, we had a 5:30 a.m. departure from our apartment in the city. We gathered together (Kim, Elizabeth, and me) at 5 a.m. for prayer. Just as we bowed our hearts and heads to the Heavenly Father, our quiet time of communion with Him was interrupted by the bellowing prayers from a nearby mosque. The sound is always an eery and moaning groan, repetitious, empty, and dark. On that first morning, it came as a stark reminder of the great contrast we see in this world between the light and love of Jesus Christ and the dark realm of our enemy, the devil. It steeled our hearts and souls for the work that was ahead, knowing that the battle is great and the reward (the eternal salvation of souls) is even greater!
We visited six villages that first week, before being joined by the rest of the team (Janet, Annemaree, Desiree, and Mikel) for the start of the main CBS in the city. In this CBS, we had a four-day program with over 1,000 children in attendance. We are never quite sure how God uses this ministry in the lives of the children; we come, we teach, we pray, we leave materials and then we fly home trusting that the Word of God does not come back void. This year, shortly after returning home, we were delighted to receive this email from the Pasto JF:
"… on Saturday morning, at 10 O’clock a mother came to my house with her 13 years old daughter, they are pure Hindus, but since three years that girl is attending our CBS classes and started to read the Bible and to pray in the house, after our main CBS was done, she was sitting in the seniors class, the teaching was deeply rooted in her heart, she was crying and saying that God talked with me, and touched my life, I want to go to church, yesterday (Sunday) whole family attended the church. Her name is Srilekha, please pray for her and her parents to change."
This is wonderful news as we have been told before that the Hindus are very hard to reach with the Gospel, and often when one family member comes to Christ, the rest of the family will disown them. Of the 500 children in my senior class, I don’t know which one is Srilekha, but I am thankful that the Gospel message is now "deeply rooted in [her] heart"! Praise God! We trust this story is repeated in many of the small hearts that attend the classes.
We used some new materials this year in teaching both the seniors and the juniors. Our thanks to Ian Coate for his fine illustrations, to Krystina Brown, Shea Wright, Dave Maguire, and Jessica Whitford. They were all an incredible help in creating books and visual aids for use in the teaching, and most of it will be posted soon on the website. Ian is a very talented illustrator who is eager to use his talents for God’s glory. Much of his work is available for use from his website: www.freechristianillustrations.com. The junior children were taught Psalm 23 from the life of David. The second day, the Bible lesson was the story of David and Goliath. Dave Maguire made a life-size poster of Goliath, complete with shield and sword! You should have heard the children cheer when the giant appeared, and then again when David’s little stone hit its mark!
One of the highlights of this year’s time in India was being invited to the wedding of Mahesh and Sunita. Mahesh comes from a strong Hindu family, but through spending time as a youth in the home of Christian neighbors, he saw a love in their home that he did not see in his own. Through the witness of this family (their daughters were my translators when we first started the CBS in India), he came to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and then proceeded to bring his close family members to Christ. He is a fine young man, well educated and growing in the Lord. Sunita has grown up in Pastor JF’s church, so we have had her in our classes and have known her for years. She and her family love the Lord and serve Him with all their heart. So, it was my delight to land in India this year and not only be invited to attend the wedding, but actually be asked to speak at the ceremony in the church. What a surprise and a privilege! As the ceremony commenced, the beautiful couple was seated up front near the pulpit. I chose my words of encouragement from the book of Proverbs. To my surprise, when I began speaking from the Bible, they each opened their own Bibles, got out a notebook and pen, and started taking notes right in the middle of the wedding! I love humble and hungry hearts!
Thanks to all who helped in printing, laminating and cutting. Your fingerprints remain in India!
Thanks to all of you for your faithful prayers and support of this ministry. It seems to be an annual miracle that God performs through the generosity of His saints! We are ever thankful for the work of Pastor JF, his family, and ministry. They are tireless, patient, loving, kind, and understanding to me and the others on the team. If it wasn’t for their burden for reaching children for Christ, this work could never be done! And every year my heart grows fonder of the amazing women God provides to be on the India team!
God’s grace be multiplied to you in Christ Jesus!
Nancy Cunningham and (pictured below) Annemaree, Desiree, Mikel, Kim, Elizabeth, and Janet