by Bible Educational Services
Few could have imagined how the first letter written and posted along with a Bible lesson by Wendy Gray back in 1958 would grow and develop in the years to come. That original postal model has evolved over the years and Bibletime lessons are now used by teachers in schools, by churches, parents, grandparents and in prisons. The Bibletime curriculum of 720 weekly Bible lessons can be completed over a period of 15 years. Bibletime is available in 40 different languages and is being used in over 65 different countries. Across the world Bibletime booklets are being used weekly to bring children to God’s Word and share truth with them.
Seeing God at Work
In Psalm 66, the psalmist directs our focus to the providential power of God when he says, ‘Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men’ (Ps 66:5). That really is a theme to think about and rejoice in! On a recent trip to Africa, BES visited four nations where there has been significant growth in the use of the Bibletime resource. These country visits enabled us to see God at work in ways that were ‘exceedingly abundantly above’ (Eph. 3:20) what we could have imagined.
The trip focused on auditing the use of Bibletime materials and the training and development of partners and their local churches. During the tight schedule there were opportunities to audit the work in each country and to provide specific training and support for partners and their work with Bibletime.
Highlights from Ethiopia – During the time of communism, the three Brethren churches had to move underground, they soon grew to six churches. Today there are 276 local churches that support their own full-time workers and have trained over 500 of their younger members in using Bibletime to work with children and young people. There is a clear desire to effectively disciple their young people. The current stock of Bibletime is greatly depleted and the team are awaiting their next consignment.
Another large church network linked with the Kale Heywet church has been reaching many hard-to-reach areas in Ethiopia. The Bibletime booklets travel on buses to partners across the country. The churches that are resourced with Bibletime complete reports that are sent back to the coordinator. This group is almost out of Bibletime stock and are patiently anticipating the next container of resources.
Highlights from Kenya – Working alongside the Emmaus work in Nairobi, Bibletime is being used to support the work of local churches and those who work with children. Since 2009 the Emmaus Office has distributed around 2.5 million Bibletime booklets. The demand for Bibletime material in Kenya is significant. The booklets are being used in schools, with churches and other ministries. The supply of Bibletime in Kenya is also running out and another container is en route. However, the current demand will not be fulfilled with this supply. Pray with us that further Bibletime resources will become available for use with children and young people in Kenya.
Highlights from Tanzania – In Tanzania, the growth in the work has been substantial. The original aim of the current partnership with World Vision was to reach 1 million children over five years. Over 700,000 children have already been reached in the first year. This growth includes children from the Maasai people group. With the requested quantities of Bibletime material, there is potential to reach 3 million children across Tanzania.
The schools’ work in Tanzania is open for local churches to go in and share the gospel. Bibletime is being used to equip the church members with resources and training to effectively work with the children through the lessons. Resources in schools are limited so church members are bringing their own Bibles and colouring materials for the children to use. During school visits the lessons were observed and the children were well engaged with the learning activities. Children from other faith backgrounds were seen standing outside the classrooms watching in through window bars and listening to the lessons.
The feedback from the local churches is that the Bibletime lessons for children are being used well and this has resulted in salvation. The churches have also experienced an increase in attendance of children and their families.
Highlights from Rwanda – The doors of the schools in Rwanda are wide open to the gospel. The Bibletime material and Teacher Guidelines are being used by a team of young believers working with Teens for Christ, who attend school assemblies each day and share from the Bible.
There is a clear desire to effectively disciple their young people
Visiting the schools, the football pitches were full of around 2,500 children assembled in class lines and awaiting the delivery of the Bible messages. Choruses were sung with the children, followed by simple gospel presentations.
The Teacher Guidelines provide a curriculum for the teams to share the gospel publicly and the Bibletime booklets are being used within the classrooms. This daily input of the gospel into schools is having a huge spiritual impact.
The Bibletime stock, provided by Revival Movement, is being well used. Training completed with teachers and youth workers means that other fellow workers will now be prepared to use the Bibletime material in church settings and through their programmes.
A Hunger for the Word & a Vision for the Lost
Today, we often hear different reasons why people are not able to attend meetings of the church; these vary from the demands of family life, work-life commitments to the need for downtime. On our recent visits with BES partners we had the privilege of seeing firsthand that distance and time were not barriers for many being present for Bible teaching and training. This meant brothers and sisters travelling on public transport for distances exceeding 250km, through areas where there is political instability and armed struggle. The call of God to go with the gospel is being taken seriously across Africa – the church has a vision to bring the gospel to the next generation. BES has been blessed to strengthen, encourage and support brothers and sisters who are seeking to serve God by sharing the gospel and seeing churches established.
We met other partners who travel great distances to come and pick up boxes of Bibletime on their bicycles. They strap the boxes to their bikes and walk home pushing them along. The task is tedious and monotonous but, as a result, they are resourced with material to reach children and young people.
Training & Developing God’s Servants
Many teachers and youth workers across Africa have little by way of resources and have had limited training in effectively working with children and young people.
BES has been striving to resource these workers with Bibletime booklets of lessons and Teacher Guides. Safeguarding training was also provided for partners during the sessions to help them plan for safe working practices in their programmes.
The Bibletime resources and training are equipping God’s servants to share the Word of God. The training has been gratefully received and the quality of the preparation and the delivery of the Bible lessons has greatly improved.
After the visits, BES continues to work with the groups to sustain the training and to enable good practice in working with children and young people. Shortly, the Learning Management System will be launched for partners to enable ongoing training. This will be particularly useful for those who travel in and out of the cities each week for university study. The long bus journeys can be used to engage with training and development activities on their mobile phones to upskill them and prepare them to effectively share the gospel with children and young people.
- that doors will remain open for the use of Bibletime in schools
- for growth in local churches as they share the gospel with children and their families
- for ongoing training of teachers and children’s workers in using Bibletime effectively
- for the ongoing printing provided by Revival Movement
- that BES will identify sustainable models for providing Bibletime to churches and those working with children.