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India Lesson Plan

India

Use the following suggestions to teach a Sunday school class or other group a lesson about the persecution and India.

Objectives
Students will learn that God sometimes takes care of those who are having problems by sending people to encourage them. We can be helpers if we ask God to guide us to people he wants us to help and to pray for.

Introduction
Explain: Today we are going to learn about India. Many languages are spoken in India, but the main one is Hindi. “Hindi” is a language. “Hindu” is a religion.

Teach the children to say “yes” (“hah”) and “no” (“nuh-HEE”) in Hindi. Ask a student, “Is your name [say a correct or incorrect name]?” Have them answer “hah” or nuh-HEE.” Let the children take turns asking each other their names in the same way.

Bible Story (Jeremiah 38:1–13)
Pulled out of the Dungeon
Ask: What is a dungeon? (Possible answer: A strong prison, usually underground, dark, and dirty. Some dungeons were under castles or other buildings.)
Explain: Our story is about a man in Bible times who ended up in a dungeon. He could have died there, but he got some unexpected help.

Jeremiah was a prophet. He told the people and their leaders what God told him to tell them. He warned them when they were not behaving in a way that pleased God. He told them about enemies who would attack them.

The princes in the land did not like Jeremiah’s warnings. They begged the king to punish Jeremiah. The king, Zedekiah, said to the princes, “He is in your hands.” So the princes threw Jeremiah into a dirty dungeon below the floor of the prison. Jeremiah sank in the mud. He had no water to drink.

One of the king’s servants trusted God. His name was Ebed-Melech. He took 30 men with him to rescue Jeremiah. They sent rags and old clothes down to Jeremiah by ropes. “Put the clothes and rags under your armpits,” they told Jeremiah. Jeremiah put the rags under his armpits, then put the ropes on top of the rags. That way, the ropes did not hurt his armpits. Then Ebed-Melech and the men pulled Jeremiah out of the dungeon. But he had to stay in prison for a while.

Discussion Options

  • The king punished Jeremiah, even though Jeremiah spoke the truth and did not sin against the king. Can you think of other examples of people who have been punished after they told the truth or did the right thing?
  • Ebed-Melech helped Jeremiah when he was persecuted. How can you help people who are persecuted for following God and speaking the truth? (Possible answers: Pray for them, and tell other Christians about them so they can also pray and help. Write thank-you notes to people in the community who stand up for the truth, and do volunteer work for them. Speak up for kids at school who are following God.)

Explain: Sometimes God takes care of his children by sending people to help them, like Ebed-Melech helped Jeremiah.
Ask: How did Ebed-Melech help Jeremiah? How have people helped your family? In what ways has your family helped others?
We can be helpers by encouraging, praying for, and helping others.

Introduction to India and Map Activity
Help students find India on a map or globe.

Ask: Can someone show where the United States is located and how far it is from India?
Explain: About 75 percent of the people in India are Hindus. So if our class were India, this many of you would be Hindus. (Indicate about three-fourths of the class, separating them from the others if desired.) The rest would be followers of other religions, including Islam and Christianity.

Hindus believe in one main god. But Hinduism teaches that there are millions of other gods. Christians know that the one true God is our heavenly Father who loves us. Hindus do not believe that any of their gods are loving fathers. Hindus also do not believe that anyone goes to heaven when they die. Instead, they believe that people who die come back to life again as other people or animals. This belief is called “reincarnation.”

Many Hindus are peaceful. But some Hindus, described as “radical Hindus,” want India to be even more Hindu than it is today. They do not want Christians to spread the good news of Jesus in India. So they give Christians a lot of trouble.

Story to Read Aloud: Tabi’s Unexpected Helpers
When Tabi was 9 years old, she and her parents, her three brothers, and her sister lived in India. God called Tabi’s family from their home in another country to live among India’s Hindus. Tabi helped her family tell the Hindus about God. This is what Tabi said about her life in India:
“India is a fun place to be,” said Tabi. “I like most of the food here. The fruit is yummy. I like shopping because you can bargain and find cool stuff.”

Ask: Do you know what “bargain” means? (Accommodate answers.) Show the children a new pencil or other inexpensive item. Tell them you would like to sell the pencil and ask for a volunteer to bargain with you. Explain that the pencil is a fine pencil with many good qualities and that you would like to sell it for $100. Encourage the volunteer to tell why it is not worth that much and gradually lower the asking price. Explain that you have bargained over the price of the pencil, and that bargaining is part of shopping in many countries. (If desired, give the volunteer the pencil for nothing, and other class members similar inexpensive items.)

[Story resumes]
Tabi continued her story about life in India by saying, “We don’t watch TV much because we don’t have cable. But we watch videos. Sometimes we go to church where the service is in English, and we sit in chairs. Other times, we go to church in small rooms or houses where we sit on the floor. The worship is in the Hindi language.

Reminder: “Hindu” is a language spoken in India and “Hindu” is a religion.

Tabi explained more about the Hindu religion. She said, “About 15 Hindu friends live near us. We play hide and seek almost every evening on the playground. Hindus believe that there are lots of gods, not only one. And they have to do certain things to please the gods. They worship cows and don’t eat meat, especially not beef.

“The Hindus have talked mean to my brother and sister and me. And they hit us when we told them about Jesus. There are places in this country where Christians are persecuted. But one of my Hindu friends who used to live near us said she wanted to know Jesus. I told her how to be saved and she put her trust in Jesus! She soon moved to a different city. I gave her a Bible before she left.

“One day, in the late afternoon, I set up a stand by our house. I sold beaded jewelry that I had made from a kit. I put some Christian tracts in my stand. The tracts were in Hindi, so I’m not sure exactly what they said. My dad said they tell the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and explain who He was.”

[If desired, show some samples of simple beaded jewelry and Christian tracts, and explain that they are somewhat like what Tabi had in her stand.]

Two of the Hindu children came to Tabi’s stand.

Ask: Can you guess what the Hindu children did when they came to Tabi’s stand? (Accommodate answers.)

Here is what Tabi said the children did:
“They took the tracts and passed them out in the neighborhood as people were getting home from work. It was weird because sometimes they act like they don’t like us because we are white, speak English, and are Christian. But that day they were having fun and sharing the tracts, even though they knew the tracts were about Jesus.”

Discussion Options

  • Were you surprised at the ending of Tabi’s story? The Hindu children used to say mean things to Tabi. How might things have been different if she was mean to them after they were mean to her? (You may want to instruct students to always tell a trusted adult if someone has been mean to them. The adult can help them decide how best to handle the situation.)
  • Tabi did not plan what happened when she put Christian tracts in her stand. Can you think of a time in your life when you got unexpected help or a blessing that you did not expect? Was there ever a time when you were able to be an unexpected help to someone else?

Closing Prayer Activity
Briefly review the needs of Christians in India and other countries where Christians are persecuted. Divide the children into small prayer groups. Let them take turns praying for the needs discussed.

Closing Remarks
Ask and suggest: How did Jeremiah and Tabi receive help from others? This week, help or encourage someone who might not expect your help and encouragement. Perhaps send a thank-you note to someone who works hard to help God’s people. Help someone at home with a chore, or volunteer to do a chore at church.

Optional Ideas
Use one or more of the suggestions below at any time during the lesson.

  1. Langdi, A Game of India
    Divide students into two teams with an equal number of players. Set off a small area as a playing field. To begin, one team is on the field, and a “raider” team is off the field. The raider team sends one raider (player) into the territory of the team on the field. The raider must hop on one foot while tagging as many players as possible. The other team’s players try to run away from the raider to avoid being tagged, but they must stay within the boundaries of the field.If the raider’s other foot touches the ground, he or she is out of the game. If he or she is able to hop off the court on one foot successfully, anyone he or she tagged is out.

    After the raiders’ turn, the teams switch positions. Those who were tagged out during the first raiders’ turn stay out of the game. The game is over when all the players on one team are out. The other team wins. If raiders are having difficulty tagging members of the other team, reduce the size of the playing field.

  2. Flower
    Background: Parts of the mountainous state of Arunchal Pradesh in India are hard for missionaries to reach. Some jungle tribes “have survived for thousands of years without the slightest knowledge of the gospel,” said a missionary. “Few are even aware that Jesus Christ exists or that He died for their sins 2,000 years ago.” (Source: Asia Harvest)Christians who have come to Arunchal Pradesh have often been unwelcome. Many Hindus, Buddhists, and spirit worshipers do not want people in their state to become Christians. The state government passed a law in 1978 that made it more difficult for people to witness for Christ in their state.

    Needed: Kleenexes, large paper clips, scissors

    Arunchal Pradesh is known for its many kinds of flowers. To make a “flower,” use the instructions in the Arunchal Pradesh section of Bold Believers in India, available in the Downloads section of this site. Use the flower as a reminder to pray for Christians in India.

  3. Butterfly Prayer Reminder
    Needed: Pieces of 8½ by 11-inch paper, decorating materials
    Churches are growing in the Indian state of Meghalaya! The government keeps a close watch on the situation.Meghalaya also has a butterfly museum that attracts tourists. To make a paper butterfly, fold a piece of paper in half. Draw half a butterfly against the fold. Cut out the sides that are not touching the fold. Open the paper to make a butterfly, and color it. Encourage the students to pray for growing churches all over India that may face persecution for their faith, and that Christian tourists to other countries will draw people to Christ.

  4. Peacock Coloring Page
    Provide students with the Peacock Coloring Page on Page 8 of Bold Believers in India available in the Downloads section of this site, and colored pencils or crayons. The national bird of India is the peacock. [There are 3 additional coloring pages in the book.]

  5. Make a Tract
    Needed: Photocopied tract pages for each student from Pages 59–60 in Bold Believers in Nepal, available from the Downloads section of this site, decorating materials, drawing instruments, staplersPeople in many lands have not heard the good news of Jesus because government officials or other people make it difficult for them to hear it. Christians secretly smuggle Bibles or gospel tracts into these countries. Ask the students to illustrate the tract pages, cut them out, and staple them together to make a tract.

    After making the tracts, divide the class into two groups. Have one group hide the tracts they have made (or other tracts provided for them) in a small designated area inside or outside the classroom. Ask the other group, the “police,” to wait in a location where they cannot see the tracts being hidden. Then have the police try to find as many of the tracts as possible within a time limit (3 or 5 minutes). Switch groups and do the activity again if desired. Pray that, in restricted nations, any tracts not found by the police will lead people to Jesus. If desired, students can make a copy of their tract and secretly leave it in a public place.

Additional Background Information for Teachers

India
Capital: New Delhi

Recent History
India became an independent country in 1947. Previously, India was ruled by Britain.

India’s constitution provides for freedom of religion. Most Indians believe everyone in India should be free to practice their religious beliefs. But many state and local officials restrict Christians’ freedom.

In population, India has more than one billion people and is the second largest country in the world. (China is the largest. The U.S. is third largest.) In area, India is the seventh largest. About 80 percent of the population is Hindu. Other religions include Sikhism, animism, and Islam, as well as Christianity. Only about two percent of Indians are Christian.

However, some Hindus would like India to be even more influenced by Hinduism than it is today. In recent years, these radical Hindus have become more powerful. Christians in many parts of India are mistreated because of their faith in Christ. The persecutors know they are less likely to get punished in areas where radical Hindus are in power.

Castes and Dalits
Traditional Hinduism teaches that people are born into castes. A caste is a social class based on what family someone is born into. Priests belong to the highest caste, soldiers to the next, businessmen and farmers to the next, and servants and workers to the next. Each caste has divisions and sub-castes. Lowest of all are the “untouchables,” now called “Dalits.”

Dalits are often poor because they face discrimination in education and employment. Today the government of India has laws against the caste system, and offers Dalits special rights and privileges in school or on jobs to help them improve their lives. But many higher-caste Hindus have little or no respect for Dalits, and treat them badly in many areas of India. “They are treated worse than animals,” said one Indian Christian about Dalits.

Hinduism has nothing to offer Dalits. They are not even allowed to join other Hindus to worship the false gods that enslave them. Although Dalits lose their special privileges offered by the government when they come to Christ, still many Dalits have become Christians.

Many higher-caste Hindus do not want Dalits to leave Hinduism. Radical Hindus try to stop Dalits from becoming Christians and persecute Christians who teach Dalits about Jesus.

Hindus accuse Christians who help the poor and needy of trying to “bribe” or “force” people to become Christians. They also attack pastors who have led Hindus to faith in Christ. In some states of India, Hindus are trying to get the government to pass laws that will make it harder for Christians to help people.

Note: The words India, Hindi, and Hindu came from “Indus,” the name of a river. Historians say that India’s civilization first began about 5,000 years ago near the Indus River.

Hindus
God has made us with a longing in our hearts to be close to Him. (See Acts 17:26, 27 and Ecclesiastes 3:11.) Hindus feel that longing, too. But they do not believe, or have not been told, that the only way to be close to God is through His Son, Jesus. So they try to fill that longing with other gods, rituals, and works.

Hindu Teachings
Christian Truths
God Hindus believe in one main god, called Brahman. Some Hindus pick one god to be their own special god. But Hindu teachings tell of many gods. Hindus are said to have millions of gods. There is one God. “The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Relationship Hindus do not believe that their gods are like fathers to those who worship them. Our Father, God, loves us as His children. “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18).
Holy book Hindus respect many Hindu writings. The Vedas are a collection of sacred writings. The Bhagavad-Gita is a respected book of stories. The Bible is the Word of God. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Life after death Hindus believe in reincarnation—the belief that after people die, they can come back to life again as other people or animals. Karma is the belief that the way someone behaved in a former life determines what they will be in the next life. After a person’s life on earth ends, there is a judgment. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Believers enjoy unbroken fellowship with God for eternity. (See Psalm 16:11.)
Salvation Salvation for Hindus means freedom from being reborn again and again. They believe they become part of their main god when their cycle of birth and death ends. Some of the ways Hindus try to get closer to this “salvation” include rituals, good works, meditation, yoga, and the worship of gods. The only way to eternal life is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

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