Mrs. Margaret Nathaniel, shared the following report of their project in India.
Mrs. Flora John, the wife of SUD Executive Secretary, and I were conducting a Branch Sabbath School for an orphanage with more than 70 Christian kids, ages 5-15. These kids knew the Bible stories so well that we decided to start the “Discover Series” Bible lessons. At Christmas we asked our church to buy 40 Bibles for the senior students. We were having two classes each week. Kids were able to open their Bibles and read for themselves. This seemed to agitate the man in charge, and one day he asked us to come once a month instead of every week. We refused. We prayed earnestly for God to open a way for us to start another one, preferably with non-Christian kids. And He did.
While visiting a friend in the Titan Layout, I noticed several kids cycling and playing in the road. Immediately I thought this would be an ideal place to start a “Story Hour” since there were so many kids. Titan Layout belongs to the Titan Watch Company, which has a very big factory in Hosur. The factory had purchased this area and built 200 homes for its staff. Buses take employees to work, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
One Adventist lady, Dr. Helen John, purchased a house in this Layout since there were few vacant houses for sale. So I asked her if she would be willing to let us use her front porch to conduct a “Story Hour” for the many children there. She willingly agreed. We recruited some ladies and kids to distribute invitations. Most people wanted to know the cost. When we said it was free, they could not believe it since many people in the Layout offer karate classes, painting classes, yoga classes, dancing classes, etc., and charge quite a bit.
In most homes, both parents work in the factory, so kids are at home with their grandparents. The Layout has an English school as well, so the kids know English. The next Sabbath, 10 children came to see what was going on. We asked them to bring their friends, and the attendance grew to 70-80. We could not accommodate all of them. Most were from orthodox Hindu families, and there were a few Muslims too. The first few weeks, some parents and grandparents also attended to see what we were doing, but when they saw that their kids were happy and safe, they let their kids come by themselves. We cautiously began with nature stories, health lessons, and songs, and then we added object lessons to expose God as Almighty, loving, and wonderful.
After a year we started telling Bible stories,and slowly the attendance dropped.With attendance around 40 each week, we could more easily accommodate the children and
pay more attention to them.The kids like the Bible stories best. A friend of mine from Oregon sends me stickers oncein a while, and we use these to reward attendance. The children share their prayer requests and tell us what they are thankful for, and then we pray about those things.
A six-year-old boy lives across from where we conduct our program. His grandparents and father are very interested, but his mother is very conservative. He would never close his eyes when we offered prayer. One day I asked him why, and he said his mother told him not to. Even when we invited the parents to our program, she went to work while her husband attended. But a few weeks ago, she was home with some visitors. The little boy was anxious to play with his cousin, but we heard the mother ask him to attend “Story Hour” before playing with his cousin. So the Holy Spirit is working on her heart.
We were very eager to meet the children’s parents, so we planned a small program and sent out invitations. The program was held on the first Sunday of January 2008, and 20-25 parents and 50 students attended. After the program, several kids who had dropped out came back to class. The parents appreciated hearing their kids sing and repeat verses on temperance, nature, etc. They all expressed their happiness in what we were doing for their kids, and several parents asked us to visit them in their homes. We served refreshments and enjoyed fellowshipping together.
Right now we have five teachers who work regularly with this project. One lady brings her piano accordion to accompany oursinging. The church purchased six stools for the staff and six mats for the kids. We have a flannel board and some illustrationsforthe songs. The moment the children see us arrive in our van,they run to greet us.
A six-year-old boy lives across from where we conduct our program. His grandparents and father are very interested, but his mother is very conservative. He would never
close his eyes when we offered prayer. One day I asked him why, and he said his mother told him not to. Even when we invited the parents to our program, she went to work while her husband attended. But a few weeks ago, she was home with some visitors.The little boy was anxious to play with his cousin, but we heard the mother ask him to attend “Story Hour”before playing with his cousin. So the Holy Spirit is working on her heart.
These kids are smart and learn so fast, even the younger ones. The older children think and ask sensible questions when they don’t understand. They also reaffirm by telling an experience or event so we know they have understood what they heard.
Please pray that the seeds we sow today will someday bear fruit.