July 18, 2008

Hip! Hip! Hurray!! Here we go for Children’s Club…

“WITNESSING….and me? Hey that’s not my cup of tea,” I would shyly mutter and slowly squeeze out of a conversation. Witnessing is something that is not meant for me, is an idea by which I would stand. I always felt that God has specifically assigned each person a role to play and not everyone had the talent to witness. For me witnessing was not sharing the gospel by mouth but a lifestyle. While the latter I strongly believed in and tried to practice, I would shun away from the former. Doing the latter was much easier for me. But sharing the gospel…to my friend…or in public!!...well, those things and myself never got close to each other. The only instance in my life I shared the gospel to my friend got me asking myself many questions about my belief in God.

Fear is what lurks deep down within me each time I am faced with an opportunity to share the gospel. How will I start?...what will I say?...what if I am not well prepared?… what if he interprets the gospel in a wrong manner?…what if he rejects it?…then will I ever be able to show my face again in front of him?...will we still be friends?? Hundreds of such questions would bombard my mind as I would stand succumbed to these unanswerable questions. Then I would clam down myself by convincing my shattered mind that witnessing for me is just a lifestyle. Witnessing as a lifestyle is what I still believe, the first step towards sharing the gospel. But how long!!!...how long will I remain in the first step of sharing the gospel. Indeed a child can never remain a child, he has to grow up!

“GOOD MORNING teacher…” Being welcomed by little children to another day at the Children’s Club, I walk in with a whole new zeal and with a completely different approach to life. “Well children, how was your last week…” that question would usher in a collection of stories and incidents that happened to these kids last week. “Very nice, today we are going to learn the story of a man who built one of the bigggggest ships in the world…Are you ready for the story…?” And before I even can complete my last sentence, there is a resounding “Yes teacher!” echoing in the classroom. “Okay, here we go…” With that it feels like as if I am sitting in the seat of a pilot with a whole bunch of naughty little kids sitting right behind me all geared up to enjoy a beautiful ride through the whole world…the Bible. Well, at times I had to pull the brakes in between to see to that all the children sit in their seats and before the plane could crash I had to get back to the pilot’s seat and continue on the flight…difficult job indeed…guess pilots should get some training from me…lol!

The ride in this plane is one of the craziest plane ride you will ever get and remember its FREE! From BC.4000 to AD.30 to AD.2008 to AD.2010…time travel has never been so easy! From India, to Egypt, to America, to Europe and back to India and not to forget, you get to stop a couple of times in Israel too! From ships to toy cars, from Indians to Israelites, from friends to enemies, from fighting in school to doing homework in the bus, from flicking someone’s pencil in school to dropping a bomb in Iraq, from Power Rangers to David and Goliath, from sin to the gift from heaven, from religion to true faith, from ‘Grumblers’ to some of my favorite action songs like ‘Twelve men went to spy on Canaan’, from flashcards to movies, from puppet shows to getting ‘Zonked out’ in games…etc…all that included in a single package that comes just for 0$. Amazing, isn’t it? Plus the added advantage of travelling in this plane is that you get to play a lot of games and sing some amazing choruses. And here comes my favorite, chocolates…for all those who perform the best in the class. Wish they would give me some chocolates for being a good pilot...

6 DAYS…18 HOURS per day…10 sessions per day…tons of homework and projects…can you imagine?! But that’s what I guess has shaped me into a pilot today…a pilot of a different kind. A pilot who is qualified to fly toy planes into the clouds of Biblical stories. Those days were more than a training ground for me. It equipped me with a better insight to the role that I am supposed to play. It kindled a small fire of courage and boldness in me. Though I faintly could see the results of the training during those days, now I can better understand the role that I can play to be much better armed for my Captain of the Hosts.

“CHILDREN DO you know that there is someone who really loves you…much more than your mummy and daddy? He wants to be your friend…yes YOUR friend…and he has a very big gift to give you…do you want this gift?” Child evangelism, that’s what I call it…that’s what the Child Evangelism Training Programme has trained me up to be - a child evangelist. Weird profession indeed! But that’s what the greatest Child Evangelist thought good for me.

Children constitute around 40% of the world’s population. India being the second most populated country in the world has a majority of children in this census. And among the so many people that die everyday, children are too a part of it. Many of them are fighting dreadful diseases like AIDS and cancer because of which they live in uncertain futures. Many of them live below the poverty line and face each day from hand to mouth. Many of them are deprived from education, leave aside quality education. Living in a city like Mumbai, I see hundreds of kids everyday…kids who though living in one of the richest city in India, still are under the dreadful claws of poverty.

Well, I can write a lot about the miserable condition these children live in but when I see them there is always a bright smile lit up on their faces. That really challenges me. They enjoy their life. Though they live in such poor conditions, they are satisfied with what they have got. They can laugh and smile through all the problems they face. Might be because they really don’t have any thing much to lose. The saying ‘The riches of a rich man adds up to his sorrows’ is true. Looking at the conditions that these children come from humbles me to my knees and teaches me to be grateful to the blessings that I’ve got in my life.

Flip the coin and see the other side of life. There are children from the higher class too. Children who enjoy all the pleasures life has to offer them. Never would they have worried for their daily sustenance. While reaching out to the earlier class of children is easier, it is very difficult to reach out to the higher class of children. But it really doesn’t call me to forsake this higher class of children. That’s when the Children’s club comes in.

“CRASH, BANG…heyy!!!...what was that big noise I heard over there,” screamed Noah. “Shem I told you to take care of that plank of wood. Remember that plank of wood will have to take the weight of two elephants. And if you plan to destroy it now, you are going to have a tough time with the elephants…the elephants…they are ten times your size and are nasty and untidy.” I remember those days in Sunday School where I learnt the story of Noah something like this…“There was a man called Noah….he was a righteous man….but the world was wicked….and hence, God destroyed the earth with a flood…...but Noah was saved in an ark…..and they lived happily ever after.” All that I got through that story was a lot of information, but scarce anything precious to take back home. But here are a bunch of children who are experiencing the story of Noah in a completely different way. Not just another Bible story with a ‘fairytale’ kind of ending, but a Bible story with a thought or two to carry back home. Through pictures and slideshows, through dramas and emphatic narrations, through daily life examples and history, it all adds up to a fun filled time of learning precious truths out of the Word of God.

Irrespective of which background the child comes from, he is sure to have learnt something valuable and have had fun along with the learning. While ‘Learning Bible Stories with fun’ is a part of the Children’s Club’s activities, its main motto is to evangelize. Through these Bible stories, we bring out the problem of sin and God’s remedy for it. Thus presenting the gospel to these children in a very simple way through which the child can easily understand the gospel of God. This is what the Children’s Club aims at and God has been blessing this ministry thus far.

SO…WHAT is a Children’s Club? A Children’s Club is as the name suggests a club for children - a club with a different motto, a club with a different music, a club that caters to every class of children, a club that reaches the gift of God to children. Once in a week we invite children from our society and the neighboring societies for an hour of Children’s Club. There are Children’s Clubs that are held even in slums and small hutments. These Children’s Clubs caters to every group of children irrespective of their caste and background.

NOW I am growing. No more a child in witnessing. No more one way witnessing. But taking the further step in life, I go on now to take witnessing from being just a lifestyle to speaking up for Christ. Well my feet still trembles and shivers as I stand in front of children teaching Bible stories. It’s not a child’s play, no way! It requires me to be prepared well before hand with my lesson. And still those questions do come in my mind - questions that pushed me down to humble myself before my fears. But now I face these questions with solutions to it, not allowing those questions to push me down but facing them bravely. As I look forward in life, I see myself wanting to do a lot for my Savior. But now I take one step forward in accomplishing a service for my Master as his humble servant.

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