TAMIL NADU, India – Anyone who has ever volunteered as a VBS worker can testify that VBS is an exciting, challenging and rewarding experience. But picture this: On VBS opening day 4,635 boys and girls show up, and most of them stay on the premises until the conclusion of VBS five days later. That is exactly what happened in early May on the campus of Gospel Friends, one of Fishhook International's partners in south India.
In what is believed to be the largest VBS held in one location in India, these 4,635 children and youth were fed, cared for and taught from the Word of God on the Gospel Friends Mount Zion campus. Even though the staff and volunteers had been accustomed to handling large numbers of children at their VBS in recent years, this year's turnout amazed them as well, far surpassing last year's record attendance of about 3,200.
Because few of the children would have had transportation to come to the VBS at Mount Zion, the ministry rented vans to pick them up from the surrounding villages and also to take them back home. Sleeping arrangements were not a problem either. In India nearly everyone sleeps on the ground with only a mat or a small blanket. And the warm, dry weather in south India in May is ideal for sleeping outside.
While preparing and serving food for so many children over a five day period was a "Herculean task," according to Gospel Friends" director Ghuna Kumar, it was well worth the effort. Most of the teenagers who attended, numbering several hundred, committed their lives to the Lord during VBS week. Seeing the tears on their cheeks and the smiles on their faces as they experienced the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ gave way to much joy and celebration.
Formal plans for next year's VBS have not yet begun to take shape, but there is every reason to believe that this move of God will continue to draw children in south India to hear of His love. Fishhook International President Will Turkington says,"We are excited to be a part of this ministry through our Indian partner, Gospel Friends. God is using this VBS to reach precious Indian children with His saving, transforming grace.
Fishhook International is a Lexington, Kentucky based organization which partners with two Indian ministries to serve the poor and offer the love of Jesus Christ in India.