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How the ConneXions Model Influenced our Children’s Ministry in India

June 2016

Lenin and Jothi Elijah, a husband and wife ministry team, were searching for something profound for their lives and ministry. They attended a LeaderSource ConneXions Intensive training program in January, 2013. Since then they have seen their ministry transformed through their application of the ConneXions Model. The following story was told to us by Jothi:

We attended the ConneXions Intensive in January, 2013. Both of us were no longer satisfied with the existing religious and superficial system and we had always longed for someone that could answer our thirst. At the time, our newborn niece had been admitted to the hospital for a heart operation but we still felt led to attend the Intensive even though our presence was needed at the hospital. This training was so different than any other spiritual program we had ever attended. Our facilitators, (LeaderSource India Director, Raj Chelvaraj and LeaderSource East India Coordinator, Bal Bahadur), said that all of the participants had been hand-picked by God and are very unique. We could see God moving among us and working deeply, pruning us and removing things which were hindrances so that God could use us and bless us.

Experiencing Transformation of Life in the Intensive

Even though we had a heavy heart about our newborn niece, God started to encourage our hearts when the participants began to introduce themselves and started sharing their testimonies. I remember going through the Knowing God course which helped us see how great and wonderful God is. His creation of the entire universe, Milky Way, several galaxies, and even the size of the earth was presented to me in such a way that I was amazed by His majesty. One afternoon, we were told to go outside, find a place to ourselves, and worship God. I cannot forget this moment in my life. I spent the time weeping, thinking about how small I was before Him but that He loved me anyway.

After years of ministry activities, it became apparent that we were drained and burnt out. The experience in the Intensive was so refreshing and we spent so much time in the love and presence of God. When Raj and Bal presented the ConneXions Model, we were asked to write about leadership crises that we saw in others’ lives. In our small group, we wrote so many down! After presenting these to the entire group, Raj and Bal asked us, “Did Jesus’ disciples experience the same problems? Do we also deal with these kinds of issues?” This struck us so profoundly as we realized how judgmental we were towards others. This made us think, “Who are we to judge these other leaders?” It was as if someone was holding a mirror up to my life. In that moment, we rededicated our lives to Christ and to caring for others. The model was so different than anything we had learned in the past. The whole model brought us back to truly loving and experiencing God daily. It taught us key things about healthy leader development and, most importantly, it transformed our inward lives. One of the LeaderSource team contacted us after the Intensive and invited us to participate in several other Building Healthy Leaders (BHL) courses that he was conducting, which we did.

Deciding Our Next Steps

After the Intensive, we began to think about how we could use the model in our ministries. Every time we attended a BHL, the question was asked of us, “Who are you building?” This helped us think and act effectively. Before we participated in the Intensive, we were overseeing three Sunday School programs. We had noticed that the children kept attending week after week without much change in their lives. We started praying about what could be done to bring transformation to their lives. We began to see how many bad influences surrounded their lives. Some of the parents were not good role models. Many of the fathers were alcoholics and the mothers held immoral occupations. The young teenagers had very bad role models in their own older sisters and brothers.

In order to have a constant interaction with the children, we decided to start a Study Center, where children would come to us every evening from 5-8 PM to study various subjects from their school classes. Both Lenin and I sat down together and created a plan based on the 5C/4D ConneXions Model for the academic year of 2014-2015. We had a goal of building them in the 5C’s so that they would be healthy little leaders. The 5C’s (Christ, Community, Character, Calling, Competencies) is the goal we are aiming for. We want every leader to be strong in those five areas. The 4D’s (Four Dynamics of Transformation ‒ Spiritual, Experiential, Relational, and Instructional) are the process of how we are built and how we cause transformation to happen in the lives of those we are building. Below is the design we created and the activities we came up with to transform the children’s lives, based on the ConneXions Model of the 5C’s and 4D’s.

Design Based on ConneXions Model

Spiritual Dynamic:

  • We pray for the children every day and ask our intercessors to pray for them as well.
  • The children pray whenever they come. They pray before they begin studying and after.
  • They memorize Scripture and recite a memory verse every day.
  • We practice fasting with prayer with the children for their alcoholic parents to repent and receive salvation.
  • We have a time of team worship every Saturday evening.
  • We take them to a worship music concert every second Saturday evening which has brought them closer to God.
  • The children join us for prayer during a morning devotional whenever they have holidays.
  • The children themselves organize prayer amongst themselves and pray in our venue.
  • Some children spend time reading and meditating on Scripture.

Experiential Dynamic:

  • When a child finishes her studies early, we ask the child to help a younger one or their friend who is struggling to finish the subject.
  • Every child gets a turn to clean the study area, do the opening prayer, recite memory verses, and do the closing prayer. (These children who had never opened their mouths for prayer before now pray without any fear or feeling shy.)
  • We took them to a home for disabled people to show them how to be grateful for what God has given them. We also gathered money from the teen’s offering and bought bathing soaps, oil packets, and biscuits and gave a packet to each person in the home. We did this for one Christmas and now the kids think we should do it more often.
  • Last Christmas there was bad flooding in our area. The children had received some flood relief materials even though their homes were not affected much. We challenged them to bring the extra biscuits and snacks that they had to give to those who truly needed them. To our amazement, the children brought them cheerfully. We took them to the nearest camp where people whose homes had been destroyed were staying and we gave the relief items to the children and the poor there.
  • We give the older kids the responsibility of taking care of the younger children according to their capacity. Sometimes we hand over the house key and they handle managing the Center for the week.
  • We teach some of them to make tea and basic cooking skills. Two of the children now prepare tea excellently for the group.

Relational Dynamic:

  • The children interact with us daily from 5-8 PM.
  • We play with them daily and have a community time with biscuits.
  • We have a potluck lunch every second Saturday after we meet for prayer and fasting for their parents. We all sit together and have lunch. The children love this time because we eat with them. They always remind us to do this time!
  • We travel together with the teenagers every second Saturday evening for a worship music concert.
  • We organized a camp for one night and one day where we all stayed together.
  • We took them to a one-day picnic to the St. Thomas Mount, a children’s park. We also took them to a planetarium. This brought the children very close together and they still cherish the memory.
  • The kids always feel at home and come to us whenever they are on holiday. They usually stay from morning to night.
  • We visit them, along with their parents, at their own houses.
  • Our casual talks with the children also bring us closer to them.

Instructional Dynamic:

  • We facilitate different types of creative learning methods for better and easier learning.
  • Each and every day we have dialogue and discussions with the children to give them clear direction for their education.
  • We teach them their subjects (Tamil, English, Math, Science, and Social Studies).
  • We also teach them computer knowledge.
  • We teach them to love one another, respect each other, integrity, thankfulness, obedience to parents and elders, and keeping our surroundings neat and clean.
  • We teach them to speak the truth and live humbly.
  • We tell them to pray every day, and question them frequently if they have prayed or read their Bibles.
  • We use videos for the children to create awareness of social issues, health, and daily living.

How the ConneXions Model Has Impacted the Children's Lives

The children’s prayer lives have improved significantly and they are able to connect with God. The parents also tell us that the children are praying and reading the Bible regularly. Since we began using the Four Dynamics, the kids trust us and are able to share about their lives with us. We have become very close to them and their families. Now when we travel for other ministry work, the children tell us that they miss us so much and we miss them as well. They also take responsibility for the Center when we are not there.

The children used to be very hard-hearted but are now humble, gentle, and meek. They also tell us that many who had been using bad words in their speech have stopped. They embrace and understand their responsibilities in life. The children also confessed to us that before joining the Center, they would roam in the streets with nothing to do and no purpose. Now, they study diligently and are excited about their futures.

How the ConneXions Model Has Impacted Our Lives as a Ministry Team

We have become a healthy couple who love, respect, and trust each other. The ConneXions Intensive has helped us look inwardly instead of blaming everyone else for our failures. The Intensive also created the right thought patterns in our minds. For every blessing we encounter, we thank God. For every problem we encounter, we come together to get to the root and change what needs to be changed. We have allowed God to work deeply in us and He has really blessed us for that. We focus only on pleasing God. We now believe God sees the attitudes of our hearts and is not pleased by superficial, outward spiritual activities or rituals.

We are deeply thankful for Dr. Webber, the LeaderSource India team, and the ConneXions Model. We are especially grateful to God for His gracious help.