Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
AWANA is an acronym originating from the verse above. It is a Bible based, non-denominational children’s ministry that has been running across the world since the 1950’s and in South Africa since1982. The primary goal of Awana is to “reach as many boys and girls as possible with the gospel of Christ and to train them to be leaders to serve Christ.” Basically, Awana is a tool to fulfill the Great Commission:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 18-20
One of the ministries1Hope has asked us to focus on during our time here is the launching of a children’s program in inner-city Sunnyside. When we first arrived in South Africa we truly had no idea where to begin except with prayer. We have felt quite inadequate in many areas of our ministry here, but Randy and I have decided that we will go with the, “When in doubt…just show up” approach and allow God to do His work. And that is exactly what Randy began to do. Having been a public school teacher for the last 17 years, he gravitated to where he felt most comfortable, the public school. Over the last few months, he has been working as a volunteer once a week, tutoring students, building relationships with the principal and teachers at Sunnyside Primary School. As a result, the principal has given Living Hope Church her support and blessing to come on campus and launch an Awana program as an afterschool program.
We set January 25th as our target “kick-off” date and although we had no school children registered, we and the other Awana volunteers took our own children and “just showed up”. It was an excellent “practice” session for us as we were able to become familiarized with the campus and do a run through of the program with a manageable-sized group of children.
The following Friday, Feb. 1st, the principal granted permission for us to recruit the many children that we noticed the week before who were hanging around on the field. We did not realize it at the time, but these children are all part of an “After Care” which the school provides. So again, this past Friday, not sure what to expect, we “just showed up”.
As soon as Randy began laying out the straps for the Game Square, he was surrounded by eager, energetic, excited children asking for the “form” so that they could join the club. We quickly realized that filling our children’s program was not going to be a problem. The problem will be, how will we accommodate all the children who desire to join?!
Under the hot African sun, we began lining children up, dividing them into teams and putting them on the Game Square. Our good friend and fellow 1Hoper, Andre DeWit, who has never participated in an Awana program in his life, expertly conducted the games until his voice was hoarse.
After all the running, screaming, cheering we gathered all the children in the hall where Living Hope’s Intern pastor, Nixson, was able to give part of the gospel message. Unfortunately, the dismissal call was given over the intercom before he was able to finish sharing, but that just means we must take the opportunity to finish sharing the rest of Good News at a later date!
We are in awe of how this ministry has unfolded before our eyes. Brilliantly, the Lord has orchestrated everything. When we were back in the States, knowing that we wanted to somehow begin this program, we would never have conceived it as a Bible Club for the students in “After Care” at the inner-city public school. There are currently 200 students enrolled in the After Care program and we figure that at this point we comfortably can accommodate 50! Our prayer now is how to determine a way to not turn away any child that wants to join. We are not sure how it will all play out in future weeks. All we know is that we will “just show up”! Please partner with us and pray for this very ripe harvest!