Over 740 million Indians live in rural, impoverished villages. The majority of the population lives on less than $2.50 a day. Yet despite their poverty, a few have found a way to give, to the Lord that is, inspiring others with much more to do the same.
Every night, a Christian mother living in India takes a handful of uncooked rice and places it in a small cloth bag. When the bag is full, the rice is taken to their local church as the family's tithe, or as an offering to God.
Moved by these faithful Christians halfway across the world, Mission India, founded by John F. DeVries in 1970, is challenging children all over the world to put their own small "offering" – in the form of loose change – into rice bags every night for four weeks.
Children are encouraged to find creative ways to earn money and put extra coins laying around aside into the rice bags, according to the Mission Network News. It's enough time for them to fill the rice bag at least one or two times.
The Rice Bag Project is a perfect way to introduce children of all ages to the idea of supporting missions, encouraging them to take part in the great commission.
Every dollar raised will enroll one Indian child in a Children's Bible Club. Ten dollars will allow them to attend for an entire year.
Lindsay Ackerman, Mission India's Media Relations Coordinator tells MNN, "When they're supporting Children's Bible Clubs, it only costs one dollar to reach a boy or girl. So four quarters that go into that bag reaches a kid in India. It's something that's easy for a kid to grasp."
Mission India provides participants with personal stories, photos, activities, and other informative material to help keep kids engaged and motivated each week to turn in their change.
The Children's Bible Club (CBC) was established in 1990 under Mission India as a means to reach boys and girls with the Gospel's message of hope and joy.
Clubs form when local churches approach Mission India for help who in turn train workers from the churches to start clubs in villages that have no local church. Although there is a long wait list of communities that desire to have a Children's Bible Club, there is not enough funding to help every village, reports MNN.
Mission India provides the indigenous ministry partners with in-depth training and materials in five age levels and twenty-two Indian languages. Within the first 10-day program, children enjoy songs, skits, and games, listen to Bible stories, memorize scripture, learn to pray to Jesus, and discover Christ.
Forty to one hundred children meet each weekday at the bible clubs.
"Children in India are open to the Gospel," states Dave Stravers, president of Mission India, "and they're such great evangelists for their parents and others in the community. We've found that families that otherwise would be very closed to any Gospel witness become very open."
Mission India states that new churches often grow out of Children's Bible Clubs. Then MI's other programs help ground church leaders with church planter training and introduce the Gospel through their adult literacy classes. Between all of these modes, thousands are being introduced to Christ.
The Michigan-based president tells MNN, "The most frequent comment we get from children is, 'We worshipped Hindu gods. They're always asking us to sacrifice for them. This is the first god we've ever seen who sacrificed himself for us.' And that's why Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is making such a great impact."
Despite ongoing persecution and local opposition – eight ministry staff were falsely accused of forcefully converting people to Christianity – the work continues to collectively transform communities in India.
Mission India's programs – developed by Indians for Indians – benefit indigenous ministry partners and draw on grassroots volunteers across India. Their mission is to assist Indian churches and indigenous mission agencies in planting reproducing churches in a systematic and measurable way.
By equipping India's believers who are capable and committed to carrying the Gospel more effectively into their own communities than a western missionary could, Mission India hopes to see India transformed by Christ from the inside out.
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