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Where in the World Is God?

Robert Choun

God is doing amazing things around the world in children's ministry. Look, listen, and learn 10 important lessons from our Christian brothers and sisters who minister to children in other parts of the globe.

As a young child in Sunday school, the adventure stories of courageous missionaries serving in foreign, exotic lands thrilled me. The missionaries were always daring North Americans (with a few British-born exceptions). Some of the scenarios in my chiIdhood Sunday school classes stiII take place, but as our world changes, so do the challenges facing the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Many of the problems confronting long -- established North American churches are now the same ones faced by our sister churches abroad.

God's work in children's ministry throughout the world reveals that the picture of missions has changed. It's time for North American churches to take a look at our sister churches around the world and learn from them.

Singapore

A new generation of Singapore Christians has grown up and brought their children to church, reports May Lim Chong, who's currently a graduate student at Dallas Theological Seminary with her husband Gary.

"Because the church in Singapore is young, vibrant, and willing to innovate, it has the potential and attraction to draw many young lives to Christ," says May. "The church portrays a generally positive image -- disciplined, yet fun; relaxed, yet respectful of God and individuals."

Lesson #1: Adapt your curriculum and facilities to meet your learners' needs--and not the other way around.

There are congregations with long histories of service, but many churches are just getting started and use temporary facilities in public buildings and hotels. Because culturally-relevant curriculum is hard to find, many teachers must adapt lessons from American publishers. Although the Singapore classroom is usually very traditional in its methods, May's church encourages teachers to use more active learning.

Lesson #2: Be flexible.

Singapore's churches are coping with inadequate facilities, curriculum that must be adapted to meet special needs, and opposition to new teaching methods. These are all challenges familiar to most people who minister to children.

Koh Siang Kiang lives and ministers in Jalan Keria, Singapore. She reports that the educational system in Singapore, which starts children in school at the age of 3 and encourages private tutoring during evenings and weekends, leaves little time for children to be involved in church programs.

"Can you imagine: there are examinations for kindergarten kids! Talk about stress! And once they reach first grade, they must do a second language," writes Koh.

Lesson #3: Go where the kids are.

To accommodate the children's demanding schedule, Koh's church has extended its children's ministry beyond the traditional Sunday school time and location. Her church has reached out into neighborhoods of unchurched children through parachurch programs, clubs, correspondence courses, and camps.

The Philippines

Lesson #4: Teach to change lives

Philip Co is the pastor of the United Evangelical Church of the Philippines in Manila. Philip says that his church's children's ministry recently set this goal: "To nurture children to have assurance of salvation, having an in-depth and holistic knowledge of God, living a well-balanced Christian life, understanding the meaning of worship, experiencing the power of prayer, continuously growing in the family of God, to become a true Christian soldier manifesting the beauty of Christ for the glory of God."

Philip's church employs a traditionaI Sunday schooI format using Taiwan's Toh Kuang Sunday school curriculum. This curriculum is designed to take children through the entire Bible in six years. Philip's church is currently innovating by experimenting with a team-teaching approach. To expand their children's ministry, his church uses vacation Bible schools and camps.

"We're not just going around doing activities," Philip says. "We're hoping and praying that the children will really be reached and affect our society now as well as in the future."

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