I was a recently qualified primary school teacher in the UK in 1989 when I first came across the concept of Christian Education. I visited South Africa for the wedding of a friend who taught at a school which was run by their church. I found it intriguing and was interested to learn more. In one of God’s amazing ‘coincidences’, not long after I received information about a weekend education seminar run by a YWAM preschool team. (I was on their mailing list having participated in a YWAM summer mission.)
This was just the start of my journey with YWAM and discovering God’s heart for young children to grow up learning of Him from their earliest years.
During teacher training I’d realised that historically the development of the education system was greatly linked to the church. The Church had been heavily involved in starting schools, providing both religious and general education for working children. Of course now children’s education has become more secular as mankind arrogantly thinks they know better!
But there are many scriptures that remind us that God and His ways are the source of true, life giving wisdom.
Proverbs 9v10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Whether we are parents or not, I think we would all agree that we long to see children grow up to love and trust God.
Psalm 78 v 1-8 exhorts God’s people to teach the next generation about God’s greatness, and His ways…
v 6-7 “ . . . that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God.”
v 8 “ and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.
The Bible teaches that in God’s order it’s the parents who have primary responsibility for teaching children the truth about God. But of course we all see situations where this is not happening. Our challenge then is how can we be encouraging the next generation to set their hope in God.
I am currently living in Romania, together with my husband Andrew. We are part of the YWAM Restore team in Bratei with a focus on serving our local Roma village communities. The team has been running after school ministry in 2 of the villages for years. Many of the children receive very little support or encouragement from home, and easily fall behind in class. The team comes alongside them, helps with homework and provides extra tuition. They also share a Bible story and application. In addition to the educational help, it’s clear that the caring relationships built with the children, and encouragement given are communicating a much needed message of value and hope in their challenging lives.
In one village, we are just starting a new group, bringing in a few of the younger children who should be in kindergarten, but due to family struggles do not go. We often have to go and collect them as parents don’t remember the day, or don’t have a watch. It’s been a joy to welcome them, give them a snack and offer them a safe place to learn and play.
We sing songs to welcome them all by name, to teach the days of the week, and will soon start to include a short Bible story.
I have been reminded of what I heard in preschool training;
Educators who have spent years researching fields of psychology and education affirm that a child forms his basic attitudes and habits between the ages of 0 and 5. His or her patterns for thinking and doing are almost set in these early years of development. This in itself is a motivation to be investing in young children, taking the opportunity to build those foundations for the first time rather than having to first remove years of hardened concrete!
One of our foundational values in training teachers is that ‘we are the living curriculum’
A couple of years ago I had the privilege of helping with a day seminar at YWAM Medias for local kindergarten teachers. A couple of the YWAM families had good relationships with a few of their children’s teachers and wanted to encourage them. They were not all Christians who attended, but very open as we shared on ‘growing healthy children’. We took a gardening theme to consider the way we can care for and nurture young children.
One of our foundational values in training teachers is that ‘we are the living curriculum’. Louder than any message or teaching we prepare, our lives communicate values and principles. We don’t have to be in an education ministry to be sowing seeds in young lives.
As YWAM Central Europe we can be praying for this sphere of education and asking the Lord how he would have us influence the young generation, and their teachers. God’s heart is for children to be brought up learning of Him, and to understand that His loving ways are for our good. Sadly, nowadays this is often not happening through education. May God show us how to be praying, and to hear His strategy to influence the sphere of education wherever we are.
32 years ago, I had the opportunity to take a training course alongside a preschool in YWAM Scotland and was impressed again with the importance of modelling and passing on Biblical values and truths during a child’s foundational years.
After that, I joined the preschool team, did a DTS, and have been involved with preschool ministry for most of the time since then.
This has taken me to Romania, back to Scotland where I married Andrew, then together we have served in Mozambique, Spain, and now with YWAM Romania
We have 4 children and 6 grandchildren. Here we are with our 2 youngest