Two weekends ago, Ruth had one of her “cultural experience” trips to Lilongwe in a local bus with Joseph and Elevate of CFCM. It is undoubtedly the cheapest way to get to Lilongwe, at 4000MwK (about £4) to travel 300km – as long as you don’t mind standing all the way, or arriving at least 2 hours before you would like to travel to secure a seat; as long as you don’t mind having all your luggage crushed around your feet or on your lap the whole journey; as long as you don’t mind having absolutely no personal space since standing passengers are packed like sardines down the aisle, and inevitably lean over the people who have got seats; as long as you don’t mind zero air-conditioning, or being by a window that is either permanently stuck open, or cannot be opened at all; as long as you don’t mind 6-7 hours of music with the same jangling accompaniment and rhythm being pumped out of the loud speakers. Ruth doesn’t mind – but is glad when it’s over!
The purpose of the trip to Lilongwe was to run a seminar for potential trainers, to help in the task of training Sunday School teachers. Although CFCM run at least one teacher training seminar every month, and in 2016 have trained just over 900 Sunday School teachers, they are such a small team that they can only scratch the surface. So the strategy of training trainers is very important. Last year CFCM ran the same training in Blantyre for people from the southern region of Malawi. This year they gathered in people from the central region – including Mchinji, Dedza and Kasungu – to the country’s capital.
The venue was a private primary school in Area 10 of Lilongwe, kindly and freely made available for the seminar. The 18 participants were taught general principles of adult learning, applied specifically to the spiritual work of training those who teach God’s Word to children. Then Level One of CFCM’s training syllabus was covered in detail. Later in the day, and after a good midday meal (some of the participants had left home at 5am!), the group was divided up, and each person had to choose one of the topics from Level One, and present it. This was all in Chichewa, so Ruth was not able to understand all that was said. However, she could observe those who had good presentation skills, and concurred with Joseph and Elevate’s assessment of who would make good trainers.
Even those who were not selected for further training benefited from the seminar, being reminded of the lessons in Level One: why we need to evangelize children; what we can learn from the example of Jesus, the Master Teacher; how to move beyond just retelling a Bible story to clearly presenting the Gospel message to children; how to teach a Bible verse in such a way as to make sure the children understand it and apply it to their lives; and how children of different ages develop physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.
One of the potential trainers is Elliam, a former student at the Bible College in Blantyre and now completing his training with CCAP in Lilongwe. He is passionate about bringing the Gospel to children, and feels that it’s not just Sunday School teachers who need to know these things, but also parents, so that family worship and Bible teaching can begin at home. As a future pastor, he intends to use the training he has received through CFCM to prepare mothers and fathers to teach their own children.
The delegates were all able to return home that day, but for Elevate, Joseph and Ruth it was too late to set off for Blantyre, so they had another night away from their families, then got up very early Sunday morning to enjoy the comforts of Malawi’s local buses and the long journey home!