Dharwad, Thursday, August 23, 8:10 am (8/22, 7:40 pm)
After our prayer time yesterday morning, we visited the Christian primary school where many of the girls attend. We sang songs for each class, and had tea and cookies (of course) with the woman in charge of the school.
Then we drove west out of Dharwad, through its twin city Hubli (much busier and more commercial), and out into the countryside. Our first stop after the long drive was at a pastor’s home, which also serves as their church. I think his name was Santosh. Coming into the villages, two carloads of white people is quite an attraction! Children gathered in the street, peeking in to catch a glimpse of us. After tea and cookies (of course!), we made several more stops in villages, throngs of children around. They loved it when we took a picture and then show them.
Arun’s ministry is very strategic. A full time pastor surveys an area Arun determines, looking for a village to live in where he or she feels comfortable. They often choose one that is central to several other villages. It seems the first step is a children’s program-daily games, puppet shows, help with homework. They have a “share and care” program, where they give food, school supplies, and play games, requiring attendance at the free government school if the kids are to participate. They do this to encourage literacy.
Drawing a crowd to build relationships is key. Because a good, holy, loving God who sacrificed his son for us is so unbelievable here, the simple message of the gospel is powerfully attractive. So these pastors gain entryway into a village, build relationships, work with the children everyday, tell the story of Jesus, and when God moves, begin a church. The church we visited yesterday is doing very well-35 people attending, and two different villages have hundreds of children in each program.
They are now experimenting with part-time workers to run these children’s programs. The one we visited yesterday had one of these part-time workers (shown above), and Arun said she is not yet a Christian. This is part of the plan of evangelism. I’m impressed by all of this-their gutsy, purposeful ministry, the holistic approach which meets food and educational needs AND builds churches, and the way they quickly equip and prepare new Christians for ministry. It’s very inspiring.
(Posted from home, 9/3/07)