I have been involved in foreign development work for over forty years. Besides Canada and the US, I have lived and worked in the Caribbean, Central America, Africa, Micronesia, India, and Nepal. One common thread is the inquisitive minds of children no matter what their culture, traditions, religion, or the level of prosperity/poverty or education. I can distinctly remember one experience in a mountainous region of Nepal.
The group I was working with were involved in teaching organic gardening, natural remedies, English, vegetarian cooking, as well as operating a clinic. I was tasked with overseeing the construction of a giant water cistern and installing water lines to several small villages. One Sabbath (Nepal recognizes Saturday, the seventh day of the week, as the national weekly day of rest*) I was sitting outside the clinic enjoying some quiet moments reading my Bible in the crisp morning air. But a white man is never invisible and in a few moments, I had three young boys crowding around me trying to engage me in conversation. I was at a loss as what to say when I had the idea of teaching them a simple song. I borrowed a guitar and began singing “Jesus Loves Me”**. I am not a singer or musician, but they were thrilled to be learning some English and the music and words and the gestures were simple enough for them to easily follow along. After half an hour I was exhausted and told them if they enjoyed themselves to come back the following Sabbath and we would do it again.
Now one needs to know that Nepal is a closed country to active proselytizing except for Hinduism and Buddhism. While one can share one’s beliefs if asked, it is against the law to actively advertise/solicit one’s Christian doctrines. The group I was working with were careful not to go beyond the limits allowed.
Well the following Sabbath, to my surprise, the boys returned at the same time – along with nine more friends. The word had gotten out. I was not prepared. I gathered them into the clinic, which was closed for the day, and started with singing “Jesus Loves Me”. Then I found a large picture roll of David and Goliath and taught them another song “Only a Boy Named David”** I found some paper and pencils (for these poor mountain children they were a treasure) and we “recreated”. An hour slipped by, and even more exhausted, I sent them on their way. See you next Sabbath. This time I was going to be ready.
By the next Sabbath, I had commissioned a couple women, who produced a bible felt set and a very large package of crayons and paper. We were ready - but not for twenty-four children. They acted as if they were starved. For attention and something entertaining, yes. But also for more – more about Jesus.
After a few more weeks our numbers swelled to one hundred and twenty. Our crafts resources evaporated to some glue sticks. The children would go out and gather sticks and stones and leaves and “recreate”. There was no time for reveling in any spiritual high, that came later when, all exhausted, we shared our amazement with the others around the midday meal.
By this point the clinic waiting room was FULL. So full many more children had to enjoy the lessons peering through the iron-grated windows – along with a number of parents and the curious.
There was no word from the community elders to challenge us. All the development work was much appreciated and the exposure of the children to Christianity was not perceived as a threat.
What is the end of the story? I don’t know. The mission was seriously threatened by the communist rebels. One night they planted a long pole with a black flag in the middle of the compound. My six-month visa finally expired, as did most of the other volunteers. The directors were summoned to the provincial court and eventually had to leave and for a season all was abandoned. But… But seeds were planted in young fertile minds, and God’s Spirit stayed on to water the seeds and one day….
Well, that was Nepal eighteen years ago, but it could have been Uganda last year, or it could be Denver this year, or Mexico next year. The skin colors are all different, but the excitement is the same.
I was struck several years ago, when I saw some of the programs being offered for Vacation Bible Schools (VBS), how cheap and really demeaning the spiritual resources are for today’s children. Not just in remote Nepal, but even more in so-called enlightened nations like America. Why insult spiritually inquisitive young minds with spiritual nonsense with no practical benefits? Whether America or the Congo, health, and healing is a major concern. The soaring cost of healthcare in America is presently the #1 concern of common households. And yet, how few know anything practical about their body and mind, how they function physiologically, what to do in case of sickness besides doling out poisonous drugs, or how to prevent disease in the first place. Where to begin with a program for children that addresses both the body and mind without neglecting the spiritual?
“In the beginning…” [Genesis 1:1] seemed like the logical place to frame up a program for children. Using the creation model as the foundation for our beginning and development, God Made Me is designed to help conscientious parents and teachers lead sensitive eager minds to a better understanding of themselves and the world around them. Seeing themselves as a special creation at the hands of a master Designer rather than the mindless product of godless chance is inspiring and more so in children.
God Made Me is only a springboard. We have already begun on God Made Plants, Stars, Animals, and one that will interest both student and teacher “My 8 Doctors”. In fact, you may be surprised to find some simple nutrition facts along with some simple natural remedies incorporated in the God Made Me set.
Are you not a Christian? Perhaps you are Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, or… whatever, you will find in these books valuable and practical instruction on how to experience more healthful and productive lives for you and your children.
Are you a Christian? Baptist, Catholic, Amish, Pentecostal, Mormon, or … the material is Bible-based, universal in timeless principles. It is a level classroom.
I am a carpenter by trade. Trained as a physician assistant. Along with my wife, owner of an Internet business. A gospel worker [in training], commissioned by the laying on of hands, and the words of Jesus, “Go…”
* The origin of keeping the seventh-day Sabbath in Nepal is said to originate with the apostle Thomas who traveled to India in the first century to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
** Jesus Loves Me
Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but he is strong
Yes Jesus loves me
Oh, yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so
*** Only a Boy Named David
Only a boy named David, only a little sling,
only a boy named David, but he could pray and sing.
Only a boy named David, only a rippling brook,
only a boy named David, but five little stones he took.
And one little stone went in the sling,
and the sling went round and round.
And one little stone went in the sling,
and the sling went round and round,
and round and round and round and round,
and round and round and round.
And one little stone went up in the air,
and the giant came tumbling down.