Easter Celebration and Dinner
Easter is one of the most significant festivals in the Christian calendar and marks the beginning of the spring season. The occasion is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm throughout India and in our Love One More Children’s Homes each year.
Most of the children in our Love One More Children’s Homes come from non-Christian backgrounds. For many children, this is their first time hearing about Jesus Christ and His abundant love for them. Leading up to Easter, the children spent a few hours every day praying, pondering, and reflecting on the actions of Christ throughout the Lent season. This provided a better opportunity to share the Gospel with them. The children’s honesty in prayer and commitment of their lives to Christ, without any disbelief, brings celebrations in heaven. We also rejoice because of this transformation! As the children share and live out the Gospel, the influence of their witness reaches further than just their families, but into their communities too. Jesus Christ uses them in wonderful ways to bring healing, hopefulness, restoration, and happiness into situations that are fragmented and desperate.
Leading up to Easter there were activities like prayer, praise, evangelism, and fun. There were special services conducted for the children on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The children loved setting up and beautifying the churches with jasmine flowers for Easter. Parents and people from the nearby villages were also invited to join them in the worship service.
A special breakfast was provided for the children. They ate idlies, sambar, coconut chutney, and kesari. All the children loved the breakfast very much. After the service, children enjoyed a special meal of chicken biriyani, raitha, and payasam. All the children had a great feast. In the evening, a special Christian movie was screened for the children which they enjoyed. For a special dinner the children enjoyed steamed rice and chicken gravy. All the children enjoyed the day and their special meals, and are were thankful to God for His provision.
House Parent Training
Every year House Parents from Love One More Children’s Homes come together for a week-long training. This year the training was held from May 14-18, 2019. Over 35 House Parents from the Love One More Children’s Homes came from different parts of India. They gathered to recommit, reflect, and to learn more about the vision and their responsibilities and tasks as a House Parent. Each day the training began with a time of reflection on a Biblical theme and prayer. House Parents were then educated by experts in topics like child care and child development. Specific subjects included: the role of a House Parent, how to counsel the children, helping children with learning disabilities, anxiety and depression, art and crafts for children, and home maintenance which also includes registers and records maintenance.
The House Parents received a clear picture of the nature of their ministry among children, which is spreading God’s kingdom in and through the ministry the Lord has entrusted to them. Every House Parent felt that the sessions were useful, as it clearly explained the importance of their role in the children’s life, and how a House Parent should care for and handle the children. All the House Parents thanked God for choosing them and for the opportunity to be a part of this training and special ministry.
Love One More organizes a leadership training once a year for the children who stay in the Love One More Children’s Homes. The purpose of this training is to “instill leadership and life in every individual child.” Fifty-three students participated in the training that started on May 2nd, 2019. The training lasted for 18 days. Children who have little to no opportunity were provided with outstanding resources to sharpen their skills and also enhance their outlook on the future.
During the first week of training, children were involved in Children’s Gospel Clubs (CGCs) in which they heard more about Jesus and His unconditional love. The theme of the CGCs was “My God and I,” which taught the children how to draw near towards God. They enjoyed singing, listening to Bible stories, and memorizing scripture. Many children committed their lives to God wholeheartedly when they heard testimonies from missionaries. Spiritual development was the central point of the training. Every day the children had quiet time to reflect and meditate on God’s word. During the evening, children attended a Bible study led by a pastor. He taught them a lot of simple activities which they could easily relate to their personal lives. He conducted enjoyable games in which all of the children were involved. At the end of his teaching, a Bible quiz was conducted for the children and all of them did well.
Along with learning about “My God and I,” the children partook in classes on English, physical activities, Yoga, computers, typing, life coping education, personality development, tailoring, calligraphy, drawing, craft making, and music. They also had sessions on anxiety and depression, which helped many children overcome their anxiety. The children asked many questions about their struggles.
Part of the physical activities included a gymnastics class. On the final day of the training, the children performed a thrilling gymnastics show. There was also a yoga class, as well as other sports like chess, carom, volleyball, cricket, badminton, and throw ball. These provided elements of fun and skills for competitive games. All of the children participated in a sports competition and excelled to reach their highest potential. The children who had never participated in team sports understood firsthand the importance of teamwork and physical discipline. In the classes on craft making and music, the children learned valuable skills and had fun. The children learned to be creative while using recycled materials in the craft making class. In the music class, the children were taught to play the guitar, drums, and keyboard. The children who had no previous knowledge in music shined brightly at the end of the camp.
The children also went on a trip to a hill station. They took a great deal of pictures, and enjoyed the weather and the beauty of God’s creation. There was a feast in the middle of the day as the children were taught to pray for the less privileged. Children enjoyed this time, as well as learning about the ecosystem that they live in. This trip culminated with a boating trip on a beautiful lake.
On May 19th, we had a graduation ceremony for the children. During the ceremony the children performed programs and gymnastics that they learned previously in the training. The ceremony closed with a teaching from the Bible that was challenging yet motivated the children to leave with determination. In order to encourage the children, prizes and certificates were distributed for the participants. The children were filled with joy after receiving the prizes.
Children’s Gospel Clubs (CGCs)
With CGCs, there comes much joy in the rural villages of India. There are limitless smiles on the children’s faces and joy in their hearts. Throughout summer vacation, CGCs play a vibrant part in educating children in Christian morals. The theme was “My God and I” in 2019. There were 160 directors, 1,591 leaders, and 97,000 teachers working in all of the clubs. The CGC materials were published in 11 Indian languages. 1 million copies were distributed to the children. These children were discipled through the clubs and taught through small gatherings, containing anywhere from 75-85 children.
CGCs bring great delight into the lives of children. Through the clubs, many lives were transformed and equipped. In CGCs, the children are discipled and nurtured constantly in God’s Word. These children will learn God’s Word in a regular class during weekly gatherings. These gatherings are held everywhere from churches to tuition centers. The children are supervised by our trained teachers who are in contact with a regional coordinator or pastor. CGCs are a great influence in the lives of these little ones, who commit to build God’s kingdom on this earth.
In almost every Indian state, the academic year begins in June. It is a time of great excitement for the children, but a time of great burden for parents. Parents from rural India or from economically recessive families struggle to provide for their children’s education. Many of these parents are usually daily wage laborers or migrant workers, travelling to neighboring cities to work as part of the unorganized labor force earning an inadequate wage.
These hard circumstances offer very little hope for an improved quality of life for their children. Most of the time, their only opportunity is to place their children in the care of a Love One More Children’s Home. Many children who are admitted in to Love One More’s Children’s Home are brought under these circumstances.
For us at IGL, it is a bittersweet time. While we are able to take in some of the little ones needing help, we often have to turn many away. But it is such an honor when we are able to help, for when we look into the children’s eyes, hear their stories of struggle, and experience their joy when they are admitted, it is a powerful reminder that “whatsoever I do to the least of these, I have done it unto my Lord.” It is a time to reflect on the calling and renew commitment to this ministry. All of this is not without its reward. Jesus says that there is a reward for even a cup of cold water given in His name. The reward for us at IGL has been the opportunity to give that cup of cold water again and again to many more. Our reward has been a heart broken wide open for His children so that we can love one more… a hundred more each year. What joy!