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Participants in the first-ever Lads to Leaders convention in Kakinada, India, gave speeches, recited memory verses and tested on their knowledge of the Bible.
International
Photos provided by Ricky Gootam

Lads to Leaders goes to India

The youth training program, popular in the U.S. Bible Belt, launches in a country where Christians are rare.

‘It’s not about competition. It’s about our kids becoming future leaders of the next generation of the Church of Christ.”

Ricky Gootam gave that message to kids — and more than a few parents — during the first-ever convention of the Lads to Leaders ministry in the nation of India.

"Let me brag about Ganga," minister Ricky Gootam said of the 13-year-old convention participant. "Today she told 262 Bible verses without looking."

“Let me brag about Ganga,” minister Ricky Gootam said of the 13-year-old convention participant. “Today she told 262 Bible verses without looking.”

Founded a half-century ago by Jack Zorn, Lads to Leaders trains children to sing, preach, teach and memorize God’s Word. On Easter weekend participants gather at sites across the U.S. for annual conventions. The Nashville, Tenn., convention — in the heart of the Bible Belt — brings together more than 20,000 participants.

India’s demographics are quite different. 

Less than three percent of the nation’s 1.3 billion souls claim Christianity as their faith. In recent years, Christians in some parts of the country have reported increased persecution for their faith by militant Hindu groups.

Nonetheless, about 530 believers from 20 Churches of Christ gathered in the southern Indian city of Kakinada for the convention, said Gootam, an Indian evangelist.

“We plan to continue and start slow and grow,” said Gootam, who worked with representatives of the Alabama-based ministry to launch the effort.

(The first Lads to Leaders convention, held on the campus of Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala., drew 74 participants.)

Pictures from the India convention, posted by Gootam to social media, drew praise from members of Churches of Christ in the U.S., including David Shannon, president of Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn.

“This is exciting,” Shannon said. “To see the next generation being reached for the Lord is a blessing. What great attendance!”

Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, India

Filed under: India International Lads to Leaders Partners Top Stories

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