This afternoon, I watched my daughter, Rachel, who is a TUtP missionary in Huejotzingo Mexico where I am this week, teaching reading to one of the young girls we work with here. The girl read a passage from the Bible and answered questions Rachel asked her from the passage to make sure she understood what she just read. The Catholic Church in this area discourages people from reading the Bible. We believe everyone should read and study the Bible to gain an understanding of what Jesus has done for them and to let them know how much He loves them.
The Bible she was reading a simplified version of the Spanish Bible with a more limited vocabulary. I brought this version down for Rachel to use in her classes. She starts her students in Matthew 1 and they read straight through. The most advanced student has reached Luke. That girl this afternoon is twelve years old and no longer attends school. Rachel and Abraham tried to do home schooling with her and some others, but her parents don’t believe in education. Still she is the most advanced reader.
The teaching that Rachel and her husband Abraham do with these children is often the only exposure to Scripture these children receive. The kids also get to do multiple types of crafts, play games, and generally have fun in a safe, loving and accepting environment. Many of these kids also participate in our Vacation Bible School and other activities and occasional trips to places of interest in surrounding communities.
Sometimes our interest in their children sparks an interest in their parents to learn about the Bible since we encourage the kids to tell their parents what they are studying. As I am writing this evening, Rachel and Abraham took my 6-day old granddaughter with them to a neighbor’s house to continue a Bible study with a woman who has said she wants to know more about the Scriptures–friendship evangelism in action. Rachel just returned to say that the daughter of the hostess is going into premature labor, so Abraham is arranging to get her to the doctor that delivered their daughter–love in action.
Wherever TUtP works, we try to meet whatever needs we encounter as best we are able.
Teach Us to Pray conducted our first ever camp for youth in Western Fiji the end of August. My life was greatly impacted by the church camps I attended as a boy. I went into ministry as a result of those experiences. Young people today face so many challenges that it was a true blessing to be able to affirm them in their faith and their calling to walk in purity and uprightness before God and with each other.
The youth we served were all hand-picked because of their leadership qualities in their respective villages. We gave them a better understanding of who God is for them and who they are in Him. We provided a place for them to have a great time together eating, playing, laughing, and worshipping as they learned together. Our friendship camp was transformative for those who attended.
Here is what some of the campers had to say about their experience: “The best camp with the right people with a good purpose to serve the Good, Mighty and Loving God!! God is truly awesome! He loves you and me!” “Dear Jesus, I’m now a champion because now I know my identity and I’m so sure that I’ll have a great future. The campers just reminded me of who I’m supposed to be. It’s true that I miss them more than anything in this planet earth. Meeting all the youth was a huge happiness for me. Dr. Ken, thank you for the message and for sponsoring me to come. God does provide. The camp came alive. I’ll never forget the friendship we made together. This friendship camp was something else. Every time I think of the friends I now miss, I have to wipe away my tears.” “One thing I really appreciated about this camp was that everyone was allowed to laugh and just be free to be themselves and have a great time together. I am so thankful.”
We plan to do at least one camp a year, bringing together more leaders from various isolated villages and allowing them to meet with Jesus and each other to be encouraged.
We did a variety of interesting things together each day. First thing in the morning everyone gathered outside the dorms for exercise to music. This was a great wakeup. Then came showers and breakfast. After we ate we had about an hour-and-a-half of worship and teaching. Then we had free time for sports—volleyball, swimming, practicing for the worship dance competition the last evening of camp, and generally getting to know each other. Many of these youth rarely get out of their isolated villages and so don’t have much opportunity to meet in a large gathering with other believers. After lunch we had more worship and teaching and trips to local points of interest. One afternoon the campers learned how one of the nearby villages extracted salt from the ocean and packaged it for sale. We also took them to a beautiful local resort beach where they could play in the sand and have a great time swimming. For the few city kids, this was a real treat. But a lot of time was spent getting to know each other, building friendships that will last for a lifetime. We deliberately structured a lot of free time for personal interaction between the campers and between campers and staff.