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Indian ministers discover that fun is universal language at Bible camp

BANGALORE, INDIA — Fourteen-year-old Steven Baptist recently discovered that kids don’t have to speak the same language to enjoy a game of tag. Baptist, who attends church in southern India, speaks English and Kanada. But a lot of his fellow students at this year’s Bible camp spoke only Tamil and Telegu. That didn’t keep the children from enjoying each other’s company — or a friendly game of tag or cricket, a favorite sport in India.
“We learned to mingle with different kinds of people,” Baptist said.
For more than 20 years the church-run summer camp, sponsored by the Sunset church in Lubbock, Texas, has been an English-only affair, said T.S. Lucas, the 77-year-old director of the program and member of the East Bangalore church.
Children from 11 English-speaking churches attend the camp, hosted this year by the Basavangudi church. Lucas, who also serves as a Boy Scout troop leader, enlists fellow troop leaders to help recruit campers.
Campers learn the basics of the Bible, “from creation to salvation,” Lucas said.
His congregation supports Peter Perishamy, a missionary to a Tamil-speaking village. In addition to preaching, the missionary has taken several disadvantaged children and orphans into his home. He asked Lucas if the children in his village could be involved in this year’s camp.
“I visited the church, and I found there were quite a few children who wanted to study the Bible,” Lucas said. “So I told Mr. Perishamy we would have a Tamil section.”
The extra participants swelled the annual event to a record 54 campers, Lucas said. The language barrier presented some challenges, though several of the children were fluent in both Tamil and English — and spoke as many as three other languages.
Campers from both the English and Tamil groups said they learned a lot.
“There are many chapters in the Bible I didn’t know,” said Derek D’Votta, 12, who visited the camp from his Assembly of God congregation.
After attending the camp, “I will go home and study the Bible every day,” he said.
July 1, 2006
Photo caption: Campers Bhuwaneshwari and Amsavali prepare for a game during free time. (photo by Susanna Smith)

Filed under: International Staff Reports

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