Teaching trainers, reaching children
Posted on: 9th February 2023
CMS missionary Katie Taylor, ministering together with Mike at Munguishi Bible College, would love to equip every Sunday school teacher in their Diocese of Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, with gospel resources and training. Could you help?
Children cheering, keyboards blaring, branches waving, voices lifted in tribal and gospel singing! The Cathedral in Arusha teemed with eager kids praising God at their annual tamasha (choir concert).
There is no shortage of young people here in our diocese, Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Half the population of Tanzania are under 18. On any given Sunday, about half of those at our churches are children.
There is, however, a great shortage of teachers and resources for the task of growing this next generation of believers. A friend here recently expressed her concern that while the Sunday school teachers joyfully came to church each Sunday morning, they had not been equipped for the task of teaching Jesus. They had Bibles in their hands, and yet they didn’t open them—not knowing how to teach its truths to the eager minds before them. Others, like friends Naomi and Sara, teach children in remote, newly-converted areas. They teach under acacia trees in the hot sun, with only a few months of personal Christian experience to lean on.
Working with Esta
Two and a half years ago an enthusiastic Bible college graduate, Esta, was asked to take on responsibility for all children’s ministry in the Diocese of Mt Kilimanjaro. Esta is one of my former students, who had loved working with children whilst at college. Then, about six months later, the bishop of our diocese asked me to join Esta in building this children’s ministry. So began a God-purposed partnership.
Beginning to train
When Esta and I first joined forces, Esta was attempting to run training events singlehandedly, up and down our diocese. Her commitment was extraordinary. Yet we both wanted to reach further. We prayed for God to create a way to reach every Sunday school teacher scattered across our vast diocese, so that every one of those thousands of children in our churches would be faithfully taught the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Over the past two years, God has graciously grown this ministry in ways far better than planned, and that we could never have orchestrated. The leadership team grew from two of us into a governing committee, as well as leadership teams for each of the main geographical areas in our region, with regional leaders/trainers flowing out to remote areas. I am humbled by the way God has raised up these servant-hearted leaders, and given us training opportunities with the regional trainers.
The story of Alais
Alais is a regional trainer. I first met Alais in my ‘Children’s ministry’ class at college in 2017. He had a heart for teaching kids about Jesus, and couldn’t get enough of thinking about how to teach the Bible faithfully and creatively to children. Alais graduated and headed back to his village, where he started a Sunday school under a tree in a sparse dusty landscape, with about a hundred children. What a joy to invite Alais to join training meetings, hear about his ministry, and encourage and equip him with more resources for teaching the Bible in his low-literacy setting.
What a joy to see him passing on training and resources to other Sunday school teachers in neighbouring villages.
Katie with other children’s workers; a Sunday school class.
God’s truth goes out in partnership
Since Pentecost (see Acts 2), God’s saving truth has gone out in all languages and cultures, redeeming sinners and gathering them for the praise of his glory. We are looking forward to the realisation of the vision of multitudes from every nation, standing before the heavenly throne of the Lamb (see Revelation 7:9).
In the meantime, I’ve loved experiencing God’s heavenly intentions worked out in a small way, as Esta and I work closely together. We have become experienced at working out misunderstandings in our cultural ways: mixing robust discussion with more passive dealings, and loving one another when our ideas clash.
In God’s kindness it is a brilliant partnership, built on knowing and depending on one another’s strengths. Esta brings vision, a sense of duty highly regarded in her culture, an understanding of how people and networks work in Tanzania, and enthusiasm for the ‘big event’ style ministry. Coupled with Bible teaching, the structuring of networks, my personal history with college graduates, and value of the ‘regular event’, God is building something quite unique here. It is not a Tanzanian/Australian ministry. It is an Esta/Katie flavoured ministry, using our combined gifts, history and relationships, and taking steps in working together to reach the teachers and children God has placed in our hearts.
I am thankful for the way Esta and I have been able to work together to develop a low-literacy, easy-to-follow book of biblical Sunday school lessons, tailored to the struggles and needs of teachers in Kilimanjaro diocese. I love that Esta creates space for me to teach the Bible at the tamasha (choir concert). Together we have used our personal connections to pursue and create resources like ‘Action Bibles’, ‘Bible Lessons’ and games booklets in Swahili—all in support of training and helping teachers in their work.
Where are we going?
God has done so much in the past two years. Our training networks are growing, and more children are hearing the good news of Jesus taught week by week. Yet there is so much still to do! Nurturing and equipping teachers in faith takes time. There are teachers we haven’t reached. There are many still growing in faith. Not to mention our prayers for God to raise up people to minister amongst teens in our churches.
As we continue, Esta and I pray for God to do his work—raising up teachers and trainers that know him through his Word and desire to see him known amongst the children they teach. We keep looking to that last day, when the children and their teachers will be gathered around the throne of the Lamb, praising Jesus in their heart languages: Kiiraqi, Kimaasai, Kigogo; waving their branches and celebrating the Jesus they have come to know.
Read former CMS missionary Judith Calf’s reflections on reaching children and youth in Tanzania here.
More teachers who love Jesus are needed throughout Tanzania and across Africa. Could you be one? Could you help in training others?
Go to cms.org.au/opportunities to find out more.