And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV)
Over the past 30 years, TnT has trained thousands of people to teach the Bible to children more faithfully, creatively, and effectively. We have successfully conducted training days in over twenty countries, several with the aid of translators.
However, there are places we cannot physically go; for example, the current situation in the Middle East severely hampers our ability to build on the solid foundation we have established in Lebanon over the past three years. TnT currently sponsors fifteen students from South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe to attend the online Growing Young Disciples training programme, which we also help to run by mentoring the African students.
We're considering how to accelerate that effort by training local trainers so that we effectively multiply ourselves and thereby overcome language and geographical restrictions. We have started working on a pilot programme of an online training resource that will give local mentors the tools to train people in their context in any language. As with our Mustard Seeds resources, we will again be harnessing the power and reach of the internet to equip people worldwide. Lessons will be shareable via our online platform, and we can mentor local trainers via Zoom. The potential for this project is enormous!
The idea germinated during Rory's recent trip to southern Africa, where he saw firsthand the remarkable work being done to train preschool teachers working amongst some of the most deprived communities in South Africa. Part of their training includes learning to teach the Bible to children. TnT is strategically placed to provide such a course, which will equip people at three levels – those teaching in a school context, those teaching in a church context and those who co-ordinate children's ministry in a local church. Each of those levels requires particular skills and theological training. We're hoping to launch the pilot series of lessons late in January.
Training in Africa
In July, Rory spent three weeks speaking at two three-day conferences, one in Mozambique and another in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He also ran a parenting evening and two other training events in South Africa. All the events were well attended and warmly received.
The DRC conference was organised by Nicholas Kyalangalilwa, who used to help Rory and Kim run a Friday children's club at Christ Church Midrand 20 years ago! It was wonderful to catch up with Nicholas and see the fantastic gospel work that he is doing despite challenging circumstances and limited resources.
Due to the ongoing conflict in the DRC, Bukavu is only accessible via Rwanda. However, this provided an opportunity for Rory to reconnect with Duff in Kigali and receive an update on the excellent work he continues to do in training people to run Bible clubs for children.
Training in Europe
Since our previous newsletter, we have also conducted further training in Italy. Rory slipped away to Siena for a training day, which wasn't possible as part of the original training tour. It was a productive day which produced several new contacts, including a large church south of Florence and one in Perugia. The next training tour of Italy could therefore include events in Milan, Bologna, Revenna, Florence, Siena, Rome and Naples.
There is also an increase in the use of Italian Mustard Seeds material, and we're navigating how best to respond to website queries in Italian!
We are so grateful to be able to sponsor seven South Africans to attend the Growing Young Disciples residential conference in January. It's a remarkable event with 350 youth and children's workers being encouraged, enthused and equipped to pass the gospel on to the next generation. Some of the South Africans attending are already on the GYD Academy programme. Others have key roles in Rory and Kim's sending church or the school and teacher's training college where we'll trial the online training course.
Hannah completed the five-part Philippians series, which is already online, and is now working on a new series titled 'Back to Basics'. The series, due for release at the end of July, will explore seven fundamental aspects of the Christian life – Bible reading, prayer, obedience and discipline, witness, fellowship, service, and the Holy Spirit.
She is currently working on Encounters with Jesus, a seven-part evangelistic series covering interactions that seven people from various walks of life had with Jesus in Matthew's Gospel.
Whole Church Curriculum
There is a trend in the UK to pursue a 'whole church curriculum' where, week by week, every age group in a local church studies the same Bible passage. One of the drawbacks of this approach is that churches that do not have a good balance of Old and New Testament teaching in their adult programme will struggle to provide children with the full sweep of the overall Bible story by the critical age of 11. Nevertheless, there is a noticeable gap in the market as we hear from children's workers up and down the country who are scrambling to find or write resources to keep up with the upcoming Sunday sermon. We're, therefore, working on a trial project to convert our range of 11-18 resources into material suitable for 3-11s. Ephesians will be available as a whole church resource by February.
With grateful thanks for your ongoing support of our work – it's much appreciated.Warm regards,
Rory, Kim and Hannah
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Items for Prayer
- Give thanks for the publication of the Back to Basics resource. Pray for Hannah as she completes the Encounters with Jesus material.
- Pray for the visas to be approved for the seven South Africans attending the GYD conference in January and that their time in the UK will be formative in their lives and ministries.
- Give thanks for the successful training events in Mozambique, the DRC and South Africa. Pray for Inocêncio and Nicholas as they lead church planting initiatives in those countries, particularly for the vital role of children's ministry in those contexts and our ongoing partnership.
- Give thanks for the technology and opportunity to provide a multilingual online children's ministry training course. Pray for creativity, wisdom and cultural sensitivity as we write the course. Pray that the Lord would raise up suitable local trainers and mentors in many countries, especially where we cannot go.
- Continue to pray for the various translation projects, asking the Lord to help editors faithfully and creatively contextualise the material.
- Pray for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, where we have almost 200 people in many Arabic-speaking countries and even Jerusalem, using our resources to hold out the hope of the gospel in these challenging and uncertain times.