Agape Warriors, run by Agape Family Church in Katlehong, currently minister to 250 children on a weekly basis – with the distinct aim of catering to the spiritual needs of the children.
Project leader, Charmaine Mtanyelwa explains:
“These children face many challenges – including poverty, broken families, alcoholism and illiteracy. We want them to know that regardless of their backgrounds, Christ loves and cares for them. Around here, Ncala is an area that is quite notorious – known for its high crime rate and instability. Agape Warriors have specifically identified the children from this community and sought to make a difference in their lives. So we transport the children from Ncala to church every Sunday – so that they can participate in the project. We do Bible lessons that are child friendly and include activities that help the children apply the lesson.
We have been so encouraged to see the impact of the project on the lives of the children. We have had parents who have come to church and given their lives to the Lord, because of their children being part of Agape Warriors. Parents share amazing stories with us – also about how their children’s behaviour has changed for the better. We never cease to give God the glory for these precious souls that He has entrusted into our care.
In addition to Sunday programs, Agape Warriors also run a program in the school holiday which caters for 400 children. During this time the children are taught life changing and Biblical principles through games and group work. They are also given breakfast and lunch. It is so important to know that the children are safe and fed during the holidays.
We face many challenges and social ills in our community – but this does not derail the passion that we have for children. We believe: “train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old he will not depart from it.” Great citizens begin with well-trained children.
Our gratitude goes to ttt4c for the monthly financial assistance we receive for this project. Thank you to the ttt4c donors who make this possible.”
** turn the tide 4 children (tt4c) is associated with Walk Thru the Bible
Run by Living Hope Tabernacle in Soweto, Johannesburg
This project provides after school care and support to 180 children between the ages of six and eleven. Project workers provide the children with a meal and assist with homework. They also do Bible teaching and various extra-curricular activities with the children. In order to help address emotional and psychological needs, the project is in partnership with social workers – as well as with other stakeholders such as the ‘help to read program’.
The children face may difficulties and mostly come from impoverished home environments. Many live with grandmothers (due to the death of their own parents) or with unemployed single mothers.
According to project worker, Vuyiswa Sifile: “We are so happy to see the transformation in many of the children. We even have parents asking us to assist them with their children’s behaviour. Some have even joined our church because of their children being in the project.”
In addition to the after school care program, the Eagle Youth Empowerment Project also runs an annual holiday program in order to reach out to other children in the community.
Our grateful thanks to the turn the tide 4 children (ttt4c) donors who provide financial support for the various children’s projects that are run by High Impact Network Churches.
** ttt4c is associated with Walk Thru the Bible Southern Africa.
We are grateful for the life change in the children and dedicated instructors who are always on the lookout for new schools. We also celebrate the provision of new bicycle tyres – bicycles being the ever important mode of transport to the schools!
God is using otLIVE to weekly change the lives of children in schools across Malawi.
“My name is Chisomo and I am a standard five learner. otLIVE has helped me not to fear the unknown. God can use me in a mighty way as he used Gideon.”
“I am Deborah, a standard 5 learner. These lessons have helped me to obey God – just like Samson’s mother who kept the commands the angel gave her about Samson. I also liked how Samson killed a lion with his hands.”
What the teachers at the schools are saying…
“Firstly, learners are able to apply these lessons in their Bible Knowledge studies – such that last term, they performed well in Bible Knowledge. Secondly, learners are able to narrate Biblical stories correctly because the lessons require a concept of memorization. This is enabling the learners to memorise and apply the knowledge and concepts gained to other subjects.The learner’s behaviour has also improved in aspects of politeness, giving and loving. The learners are able to show these Bible concepts to their fellow learners – for example, following God’s rule to love your neighbour. otLIVE has had a great impact at our school. Let it continue.”
~ Innocent, a standard 5 teacher
“These lessons have helped me a lot in my class in many ways. First of all, my learners have changed their behaviour and are taught how to behave as the children of God. It has simplified my work. Lastly, the program has encouraged our learners to come to school in large numbers – hence we appreciate these lessons at our school.”
~ Jean, a standard 5 teacher
This was the feedback from of one of the leaders of the Holiday Bible Club hosted by Lenasia Church of the Nazarene – where 1900 children participated in otLIVE over the course of the week.
Testimonies from some of the children…
I have learnt that God can make anything happen if you come to him in prayer. God is with you throughout the way. I really liked acting out the Bible with the hand signs and I understand the Bible better now. I didn’t go to Children’s Church before. I hope to go now.
I never grew up reading the Old Testament – so I never understood about Abraham, Isaac and all those people. But now I have started reading the Bible for myself.
I am learning what I didn’t know before and I understand the Bible more. The lessons also reminded me about respecting God and helping each other.
otLIVE makes me want to participate. The hand signs are so fun!
Now I will be able to read the Bible.
I felt good and normal being here. I like the story about Joshua. The lessons also reminded me about respect – and not dissing others and my parents.
~I will remember that it went well with Joseph because he obeyed God.
I like the story of Samson. It reminded me about not letting people force you into things. I also really enjoyed the hand signs and I can do them for my family. I am reading my Bible.
My favourite story was about Joshua and learning to be strong and courageous.
Jacob was a wrestler! That’s cool!
I liked the explaining of the stories. Now the Bible will be easier to read.
I learnt about forgiving and not being cruel to others – like Joseph.
I am happy to be here. I am learning to not swear and to show respect.
These hand signs will help me! I liked learning about Moses – and the waters parting and the staff and the snake. The stories teach me that we must obey God at all times.
And from some of the volunteers…
I am a volunteer here and I have also brought my own kids to attend Holiday Bible Club. What is amazing is that the kids remember most of the otLIVE lesson and are really motivated. The hand signs really help.
The children are enjoying the hand signs. They pick them up easily, are learning quickly and are able to repeat them. They are really grasping the lessons from the stories.
The kids were enthusiastic and excited about otLIVE – eagerly anticipating what they were going to be taught next!
otLIVE really made the stories easier to understand. The actions and hand signs especially helped the kids.
And from others…
“I am learning so much from otLIVE. This has meant so much to me.”
“otLIVE is such an easy and light way to get through lots of content and to understand the Bible.”
“I take leave from work just to help here at the Holiday Bible Club!”
“I will remember the smiles on the kids’ faces. OtLIVE really helped to simplify things – I used to get stuck trying to remember everything!”
For more information on otLIVE please click here
This was over the course of a week at the annual Holiday Bible Club hosted by the Lenasia Church of the Nazarene. It seems like not even the icy winter cold could dampen the enthusiasm of the children – and the leaders recount, with a smile, how the queue of children wanting to come into Holiday Bible Club just didn’t end!
Zeenat, one of the leaders shares: “As the leadership prepared for this Holiday Bible Club, we felt lead by the Lord to take the children back to basics. There is such a spiritual need in this area. We felt the need to help every child, at every level, understand and remember what the Bible is about – and that is why we chose otLIVE as our teaching theme for the children this year. We, as adults, and as a congregation did otLIVE – and were so excited about what we had learnt in such a short time. We realized the amazing potential otLIVE would have with the children.”
Another leader at the Holiday Bible Club, Janelle, relates her impressions: “I was so impressed with how the otLIVE instructors related to the children. They taught them the Bible stories and the hand signs to help them remember. But they also brought the stories back to the real lives of the children. Children need something they can relate to. What does it mean to obey God like Moses did? What do I learn from Joseph about forgiving my brothers – and what does it mean to have honesty and integrity like he did? We also want to teach life skills to these children – things like respect, safety, obedience. We are planting seeds in the lives of the children. This is such an opportunity to speak life over them and call out their potential. It also really helped that the instructors were able to switch between Zulu, Sotho and English – and relate to the children in their own language.”
“What is amazing is that the kids remember most of the otLIVE lesson and are really motivated. The hand signs really help.” – Deon, Leader Teen Boys
According to Rev Vincent Kandan from the church:
“Walk Thru the Bible has really helped us by coming on board and taking care of the teaching and curriculum for the 1900 who attended this year’s Holiday Bible Club. It relieved some of the pressure for us as a church, and enabled us to focus on the many other logistics involved in organizing and running an event of this size and nature.”
Ministering to spiritual and physical needs
Lenasia Church of the Nazarene’s heart is to bring the hope of Christ to their community. This is vividly demonstrated in their commitment to minister to both the spiritual and physical needs of the children. The Holiday Bible Club was held at two different venues in Lenasia – in areas with very diverse populations. Many of the children came from poverty stricken informal settlements. Some are from Muslim and Hindu backgrounds. The children are welcomed with breakfast and a hot drink as they arrive in the cold early mornings that characterize winter in Johannesburg. Those who arrive without adequate warm clothing are provided with shoes, jerseys or jackets as required. The children are also given another meal before they go home.
A contingent of 200 volunteers are trained to assist in the running of the Holiday Club. They work in areas such as catering and kitchen work, first aid, security, clean up and the leading of small groups. Many of the volunteers who now serve at the Holiday Bible Club (with many even taking leave from work to do so) attended the Bible Club themselves as children. Now they send their own children to the week long event. Other volunteers are members of the community who see the value of the work and are eager to get involved.
God at work in the lives of the children and volunteers
After worship and otLIVE teaching in the bigger groups, the children break up into smaller age appropriate groups with their leaders (pre, school, middle school and teenagers). This is an opportunity for reinforcing the lesson, reviewing hand signs, discussion, crafts, games, song and dance. It is these settings and other quieter moments, that provide opportunities for one on one counselling and sharing.
As one leader testified: “Just this morning, I talked with a 10 year old girl who was suicidal – her family are of another faith – but I shared with her the purpose that God has for her life and taught her about talking to God through prayer. Many of the children come from very difficult home circumstances. Our heart is to serve them and show them love as Christ loves. We have to bear in mind what they had to go through just to be here on this cold morning. It is also wonderful to see how God is at work, not just in the lives of the children – but also in the lives of the volunteers.”
A testimony to the Lord
Lenasia Church of the Nazarene has a long legacy of running Holiday Bible Clubs in the area – with the first one being run in 1963. Rev Vincent is himself a product of Holiday Bible Club – having come to know the Lord as a young boy in a similar environment. His associate pastor, Rev Peter explains how difficult it was to initially break into the area, which has a strong presence of other faiths.
The church has a weekly attendance of 160 – 200 people. What a testimony to what the Lord will do with hearts and a people who are willing to serve and reach their community with the love of Christ. Rev Vincent also testifies as to how the church has grown through the Holiday Bible Club: “As we reach the children, we reach their families and many are drawn to coming to church. We want to bring hope to Lenasia.”
The annual Holiday Club is something the Lenasia Church of the Nazarene spends the whole year preparing for – raising funds, collecting clothing, preparing themes and activities, gathering community support and local authority approval and training leaders and volunteers. And by half way through the week, Rev Vincent, already with a glint in his eye, is making plans for next year…
For more information on otLIVE please click here
At a recent three day workshop in Salima, Malawi, the KidZ at Heart Live Event material was translated into the local language Chichewa.
After 4 years of teaching KidZ at Heart to local teachers in Malawi, this translation of a significant portion of the material represents an exciting new development. These Live Events had previously been taught in English with the aid of a translator. There are now also plans to complete the translation of the material.
This translation really fits with the KidZ at Heart value of reaching children’s workers and children within the context of their own culture and community. It now also opens the possibility of training local KidZ at Heart instructors in Malawi. Please pray with us for this opportunity, as well as for new ministry contacts in Lilongwe.
One of the local translators, with a beaming face and great excitement shared his ‘light bulb moment’ while translating the training material:
“For the first time, my eyes have been opened to what it means to pray without ceasing. Now I understand! I never thought that translating this training material for children would enrich my own life!”