In 1955, Art went on a trip to Venezuela with New Tribes Mission (now Ethnos360). While there, he took notice of all the children aimlessly roaming the village, and it sparked an idea. He decided to draw an Awana game circle into the dirt along a riverbank and, through an interpreter, invited children to join him for a game. The kids responded with unbridled enthusiasm.
“It was there on that riverbank that God gave Awana a mandate,” Art said. “The Lord called us to reach out to a world of boys and girls who desperately need to hear God’s offer of salvation. At that moment, He showed me that children all over the world have the same needs – they need Christ’s redemption and they need adults to love them– and that He could use Awana in a powerful way to meet the needs of their heart.”
That mandate was planted, but it took a few years for the ministry to grow within the US and for the foundations to be set for international ministry. But in God’s timing, the first international Awana club launched in Bolivia in 1972. Awana has carefully shepherded the gospel through changing times, holding tightly to what is eternal, making needed updates, and during nearly 70 years of ministry has produced a revolutionary impact. By equipping and training local leaders and partnering with churches around the globe, we are experiencing unheard of growth in this exciting season. Today, Awana is in 121 countries around the globe, reaching more than 4 million kids every week with the gospel and discipleship. In the beautiful country of Venezuela where this dream first started, there are currently 581 clubs and over 48,950 kids being reached – but that’s just the beginning.
When asked how this growth happened, Art said, “I simply tried to be faithful to what God would have me do each day. He’s the one who grew Awana into a ministry around the globe, not me.”
Will you join us in this journey of seeing the amazing God-story play out through the ministry of Awana?