Fifty children gave health seminars and marched with banners in a city in southeastern India as they joined Adventist Church efforts to find a new way to share Jesus in that part of the country.
At a cost of only $200, the students from Miryalaguda Seventh-day Adventist High School shared the Adventist health message with several thousand of the 115,000 people in Miryalaguda, said Robert L. Robinson, administrative assistant to the president of the church's Southern Asia Division.
“We were experimenting to see if this would be a good approach to begin reaching the cities in the state of Andhra Pradesh with the gospel message,” said Robinson, who attended the event.
By all indications, the experiment worked, he said.
The students, wearing blue school uniforms and accompanied by police escorts, gave health lectures at three separate locations on Nov. 19. They also marched with self-made banners bearing slogans like "Alcohol Is a Demon Drink" and "Smoking Is Injurious to Health." One particularly creative poster showed a cobra poking its head out of a bottle of alcohol beside a skeleton and a list of the direct effects of the drink, including headaches, low blood sugar, and dehydration.
Robinson estimated that 2,000 people heard the lectures and many more saw the march.
“The march almost caused traffic problems because people were curious and stuck their heads out of their vehicles watching as the students paraded through the main streets,” he said.
The initiative also caught the attention of the local newspaper, which published an article that gave additional attention to its purpose.
About 50 million people live in Andhra Pradesh, the eighth largest of India’s 29 states. Only about 1.5 percent of the population is Christian, with Hindus making the majority of 92 percent.
Miryalaguda Seventh-day Adventist High School, which opened seven years ago, teaches 527 students ages 5 through 17. A new school building is under construction that will expand capacity to 1,000 students. Notably, all students passed state exams for this academic year, even though the school is located in a poor area, Robinson said.
The students plan to visit a second city in December.