Let the Little Children Come
“What did God make on day five?” I asked the roomful of preachers.
“Fish and birds,” the enthusiastic men chanted in chorus, showing five fingers, and then making their hands “swim” like fish.
It was the long-awaited day when our new Sunday School ministry began. I taught a class on why Sunday School is important and how to do it, teaching the first lesson to illustrate.
This ministry of getting teaching materials into the hands of the preachers is especially close to my heart. When I was a child, my parents weren’t in church, but they sent me to Sunday School when it was convenient. Although I wasn’t saved until later, I entered my Christian life with a basic knowledge of Bible teachings and many memorized Scriptures. Those things which were planted in my heart when I was a child took root after God graciously saved me. We’ve been burdened for the many children in the villages. I urged the pastors to make sure their church children know the Bible and encouraged them to reach out to the lost kids in their villages.
It took a lot of work and planning to bring the project to completion. Wichai (William) did the lion’s share of the printing and collating. He also found pictures when our first attempt to get permission to copy pictures fell through. We are thankful for www.freebibleimages.org which makes copyright-free Bible pictures available online. Wichai did all the work of making them the right size, printing them out, and laminating them. We also copied coloring pages and bought crayons for about 40 Sunday School teachers.
Writing the lessons wasn’t a problem since I spent about 50 years writing a through-the-Bible curriculum. Back when I started, I couldn’t find Sunday School material that had any direction or “meat” to it. Either it was bland and without relevance to the kids, or it included a “pray this prayer after me” message. I was easily talked into a false decision when I was a child, and wanted to make sure materials we used at Sherwood wouldn’t didn’t promote that happening to our kids. I finally decided to write the lessons myself. I started them when I had four small children at home – and my teachers sometimes had to wait until the next-to-the-last minute until I managed to get the lessons written and delivered to them. In the years after that I rewrote and refined them. While in Thailand I’ve been doing what I hope is a final rewrite in hopes of publishing the lessons in a book form. I had my grandchildren in mind, but I think they will be grown up before I get it into print – or at least in digital form. However, a slight bit of editing for the culture here had the first lessons ready for the translator.
Now the first quarter lessons, pictures, and coloring pages are in the hands of the teachers and already in use. The second quarter lessons are back from the translator and we will start next week on the work of printing and copying.
Our new professional printer is great and allows us to do the massive amount of copying cost effectively. And my helpers are terrific! So are our supporters who make projects like this one possible. Please pray that the Lord will use these lessons in the lives of the hundreds of children who will be hearing the Gospel every week.
Wichai has done the bulk of the copying, assisted by Moses and by our new volunteer, Anna Holshouser. What a blessing she has been already! She is a natural teacher and has already begun taking on some of the classes I was struggling to keep up with.
I don’t know whether it is the diabetes I fight to get under control, or whether I am just getting old. I guess I AM going to be 70 years old soon. But I’m working on my health and determined to keep going. There are just so many opportunities here, and it’s hard to pass them up, even when I don’t have the stamina to keep up with them. Anna has picked up the slack on several things that were difficult for me – and I’m thankful! She works with our new students in the learning center and has taken a couple of the classes of middle-schoolers. I’m planning to work more on Thai and on writing (like getting the Bible Story book finished at last!) while I continue to work to get my diabetes under better control and my strength back. I fell a couple of times, the last time damaging ligaments in my ankle. That certainly has given me a setback! Both the pain and the inability to exercise have caused my blood sugar, which was doing so well before, to spike again. We might start another couple of classes when it heals if I can get back up to speed. Prayers for that appreciated!
Here is Anna, giving out bags of medicine to the preachers.
In other news, Mali (Molly) is apparently getting close to the time of delivery of her baby boy. I doubt she will make it to the end of September. She’s certainly miserable -- uncomfortable and unable to sleep. We are eagerly waiting to meet little Timothy. I’ve already started collecting books to read to him and have plans to make sure English is one of his first languages. Please pray for his safe arrival.
Paul just finished another exhausting but blessed week of preachers’ training. He works all month writing the lessons and the tests for them, then pours his heart out teaching them. Last month he also traveled to the border to the teach the men in Myanmar who still aren’t able to travel here for preachers’ training. This month he is planning a trip to Laos to teach preachers there. Teaching and training pastors and preachers is his calling and passion, and he is excited to go. I’ll be holding the fort here, which is much easier since we have so many fewer live-in students. All but one of our Learning Center students are day students from a village about five miles away.
We also have been able to travel more to the villages, although the slippery mountain roads in rainy season sometimes make our travel plans not possible. We look forward to traveling to more villages starting next month when the season of Thanksgivings has arrived.
We are already full of thankfulness! God is so good to allow us to serve Him here in this beautiful, but spiritually needy, country. We are happy with our life and just long for strength to serve Him more.