By Beth Stokley Sonnenberg
God has blessed me with the opportunity to teach women and men how to work more effectively with their children in Latin America. Though much of this region is more advanced than some other parts of the world, they are still very much influenced by old world Catholicism in their ways and its views of Christianity. Many of the Latin American countries teach their children in a traditional manner, that is, with the teacher telling a story and the children sitting and listening.
In our workshop for children’s ministry leaders, we introduce the concept of active learning and train participants to involve the children in the learning process using activities, puppets, play acting, music and games which involve all three learning styles. We also teach tried and true methods of lovingly disciplining children so their classes can be run more effectively. Introducing them to the concept of team-teaching also helps encourage potential new teachers and makes teaching easier by sharing the load.
Haiti has a mix of voodoo and ancestor worship that taints their Christianity. We are pleased to bring solid theology to the churches there. The first Timothy Two workshop for pastors and ministry leaders, “Knowing God,” is used to create a curriculum for children. As teachers and children study the attributes of God they can know Him and worship Him more fully. Helping teachers learn to study God’s word, showing them what materials are available to help in their teaching, giving them information about how children can be taught more effectively at a young age and modelling new teaching styles brings excitement to a task often viewed as challenging to many adults.
I have had the privilege of ministering to teachers in Havana and Palmira, Cuba; Lima, Peru; and, Jacmel, Haiti so far. We also have invitations to teach in new locations in Haiti, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil. It brings me great joy to teach children’s ministry leaders who desire to learn and to see the joy in their faces as they learn that teaching children can be a positive, exciting and rewarding experience which can produce much fruit.
What a privilege to teach people who desire to learn and improve their skills. Many of the places we go have very limited resources and it is often overwhelming to see the needs there. I find comfort in knowing that you with your support and Dan and I in our service can help influence and educate God’s precious people in Latin America. Many often feel forgotten by God because of their neediness. When you send missionaries you show that God has not forgotten them and that you care about them. We may not be able to give them a lot of money but we can share what we have learned. That makes a world of difference to those we visit. You care, we care and most importantly GOD cares. Our prayer for each of the countries we visit is that they will use these teaching skills to reach out into their communities and bring in the harvest that is all around them. Thank you so much for your part in what we do. We can’t go without your prayers and support!