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10 July 2024

Resourcing children’s ministry in Vanuatu


CMS missionaries Joel & Tiffanie Atwood serve with the university student fellowship and their local church in Vanuatu. Tiffanie is developing kids Bible resources for their church and local school. Read on as she shares how their community is prioritising building up the next generation of believers. 

“Mama Tiff, this is the first time in five years where someone has sat down, talked, and given me guidance about this.” 

 

Seeking guidance and resources

Our church started in 2018, when a couple moved to their new farm and noticed that many around them had to walk far distances to get to church. So, they gave away a portion of their land and built a church to reach those in the community, including the many pikinini (children). As the church began, it also made sense to start a Sunday School for these children to come and learn about our great God.

One of the founding elders gave her 15-year-old daughter, J, the responsibility of coordinating this new Sunday School without any guidance, resources, or help. Five years on, J is still leading the children’s (and now youth) ministry of the church on her own, and is eager for some guidance, resources, and help.

The group extends from toddlers to high schoolers, all in one class. Imagine having to wrangle little ones with short attention spans, through to teens who needs something a bit more engaging, all while trying to teach the Bible! Even with these challenges, J is an amazing storyteller, and faithfully feeds these children with different Bible stories, songs, and activities every week.

 

Developing resources with J

The need has continued to grow on a different front, as the church leaders noticed that the children of this community needed a school. So, they marked off more land, and built a primary school. (Maybe you’re starting to see what kind of folk our leaders are!)

As part of the curriculum, the school sets aside an hour every Tuesday afternoon for the students to hear from the Bible. The church approached me to ask if I would develop some resources in Bislama (one of the official languages in Vanuatu) that could be used across the church and school.

I was excited by the invitation, but before rushing into developing the resources myself, I thought it would be a great opportunity to work closely with J. Together we could work out something more ‘Vanuatuan’ that would work well at Sunday school and primary school, to toddlers and to teens.

We met and chatted about the stories we want to include in the curriculum, to help the kids see how the whole Bible fits together around Jesus. We discussed what sorts of things a lesson should include, ways to keep children engaged, and activity ideas. I showed her an example of a lesson that I wrote, highlighting how important it is to make sure every part of the lesson helps children grasp the main point of the story.

It was a joy to see the twinkle in J’s eyes, as her brain tried to understand all the things we discussed. At the end of our meeting, J turned and said, “Mama Tiff, this is the first time in five years where someone has sat down, talked, and given me guidance about this.”

It’s been difficult to stress to the church that developing resources is a very slow process. A well-planned curriculum can’t happen overnight–J and I need time to think, write, play with language and concepts, and tweak lessons and resources as we try them out. But I am so thankful to God for the elders, and J’s eagerness to see these local resources developed.

We want to raise the profile of children’s ministry within the church—inviting, equipping, and training others in the church to take up the task of growing the next generation in Jesus.

 

GO

Could you join Tiffanie in raising the next generation of believers across the world by developing kids Bible resources? Contact your branch to start a conversation here.