Last Saturday morning, Ruth watched as 20 Bible college students from EBCoM completed the practical task in their children’s ministry training. Each student had to teach a Bible lesson and memory verse, while the trainers listened and evaluated, and then gave feed-back. It made Ruth more acutely aware of the challenges faced by children’s workers here in Malawi, compared with those living in the UK.
Back at home, there is so much to help the children’s worker in preparing a Bible Club.
- Christian bookshops are full of resources – illustrated children’s bibles, lesson plans, visual aids, illustrations, activity books, arts and crafts materials, books of games.
- Hours can be spent browsing the internet, to find yet more lesson plans, printable templates, colour-in sheets, craft ideas, activity suggestions.
- Many teachers will have a wealth of ideas from things they have seen and done in the past, after years of being involved in children’s clubs, Sunday School, camps, beach missions.
- Many churches will provide training and offer a generous budget to the workers to buy books, craft materials, sports equipment.
- Computers, projectors, sound systems will be available at the club to help produce a slick, multi-sensory experience for the children!
Not so in Malawi. Many of the newly trained children’s workers in Malawi will have no experience to draw on, because when they were children themselves, there was no such thing as Sunday School or a Bible Club. In some churches, pastors still feel that children’s work is very low priority, so there is no encouragement, and definitely no funding made available for those who want to reach out to children. There are absolutely no resources available in Chichewa, even if workers had the money to buy them. What is available, but only accessible to a very few, is in English, with no contextualization. Many are blissfully unaware of the huge resources available on the internet, for example the colour-in sheets Ruth has produced for some of the Bible Clubs have brought forth comments like “Wow – did you draw that?” !! However, even if people are aware of what is available, browsing the internet at an internet café, printing and photocopying all costs money that few can afford.
So the practical assessment that Ruth watched at the Bible College was a vital part of the training, to make sure that students had absorbed the teaching on how to make each and every Bible lesson a clear child-friendly presentation of the Gospel, with the invitation and opportunity for children to make a commitment to Christ. The only physical resource to help the teachers’ preparation is their Bible. And they have to be able to bring their lesson alive and hold the attention of children without any visual aids or technology to help. Many of these students did an amazing job, rising to the occasion with so much energy and animation. It is the prayer of everyone involved in this vital training that each newly trained teacher will be helped by the Holy Spirit to speak to the hearts of the children they work with, and lead many to the Saviour; that they will not lose their enthusiasm and commitment; and that they will be encouraged in their ministry.