Time has flown by: I’m now in the middle of Week 6 of the Timothy Internship Program in Iloilo City! And I’m still learning by doing: not doing for the sake of doing.
Nate and Abegail spent a week teaching us from their experience in running children’s ministry. Nate started off by presenting some mind-boggling statistics: 1/3 of the world’s population is under 18 years old, 400 million children in the world are street kids, and less than 15% of all missions spending goes towards children.
Then Abegail walked us through the “LEARN” method for developing children’s ministries. LEARN stands for learner based, experiential, applicable, relational, and narrowly focused. She showed how to use LEARN in breaking down a lesson for the short attention span of kids. We also practiced using puppets, games, and recurring characters to complement lessons.
These skills came in handy for organizing several Kidz Clubs. A Kidz Club lasts for a couple of hours involving songs, games, lessons, memory verses, and some absolutely essential time to run around and burn off extra energy! While Nate and Abegail provided us with the themes for the lessons, we picked the songs, wrote stories, and came up with games. We ran Kidz Club at the Sonshine Center in Iloilo City, as well as the church plant that Nate and Abegail are starting at Calajunan.
The process of developing children’s ministry surprised me. It turned out to be much easier than I imagined. For all of the energy you can put into learning a prewritten curriculum, it doesn’t take much more effort to create your own. However, it does require more planning: you have to pick the topics and develop the lessons you want to teach. But in the end, you have a ministry you own and can hand-craft to the needs of the children you’re serving. Considering that 80% of people make a decision to follow Christ before age 13, I think the time investment in extra planning is well worth it.
With some children’s ministry experience under our belts, we were handed off to Mike and Jude Kelly for a week of training in Community Health Evangelism (CHE). The CHE program is designed to help communities learn and teach Biblical health principles. Mike and Jude have been working with members of the San Isidro relocation community to implement a CHE program. In 2008, San Isidro became home to several hundred people displaced by Typhoon Frank. Most of the families there are still rebuilding their lives.
At the beginning of the internship, we got a personal introduction to the San Isidro community through a dental outreach. While the outreach only lasted a few hours, months of preparations and relationship building went into it before we even arrived. The children at this outreach received a dental checkup, as well as a hands on lesson in brushing their teeth.
This dental outreach was a great example of why CHE is so important. If they wanted to do a quick outreach, Mike and Jude could have grabbed a local dentist and a few friends, showed up on a Saturday, then flown back to the United States. But they wouldn’t have built any relationships and the community wouldn’t be equipped to manage future health problems. Instead, the Kellys have invested time in befriending, recruiting, and training community members to teach health topics. This way, the health lessons will keep spreading and the Kellys can begin the process again with another community.
Right now, Jude is training us for a second week, covering First Aid. It will come in handy, as we are organizing the annual medical outreach at the Sonshine Center. So in the meantime, I have some signs to hang up!