have mentioned previously (especially in our Vision
for Kwong Ministry on the this site), the failure of the present generation to pass on
the good news to the next generation is he Achilles heal of the Kwong
church. Failure on our part to develop within the Kwong a church a tradition
of teaching their children both at home and in ecclesiastical contacts is to
potentially see our efforts in this generation come to naught in the next.
There are in fact tribes in Chad where precisely this has happened.
do not have anything like a natural affinity for children's ministry - and
greatly admire those who do. But be that as it may, we have for the past several
years we have been becoming quite adept at it. The key to our effort
is one of the elders in the church named Jonas who besides an possessing an immensely
engaging personality and considerable respect (he is a village chief), is a
story-teller par-excellence. Give Jonas a yarn to spin, and he'll catch
even a corpse's interest.
works like this. Mark prepares a recording in Kwong of the Bible story in question
with a suitable introduction, conclusion, and such embellishments as will make
the story more interesting and coherent. (We began with the stories of
Joseph in 2006 and as of mid 2009 are working through the early kings of
Israel.) Jonas comes over to our house on
Saturday afternoon and we listen to the recording several times and talk about the
story. You must understand that neither Jonas nor virtually any of the adults
of the Kwong church know these stories - which is one reason the otherwise
wonderful, Biblical notion of parents teaching their kids is, for the
time being, impractical in Kwong land.
morning is show-time. One of the young chaps from the village leads the
kids in some raucous (there is no other word) singing with drums and then Jonas
stands up and lets rip. By this time he has internalized the story quite well
and the kids are very shortly spell-bound - something amazing to see given that
their attention-span is only a fraction of your average American kid's already
stunted attention-span. Even so, he does occasionally miss a bit of the story,
so Mark, who stands next to him through the story as a kind of dumb sidekick,
pretends he doesn't quite "get" something, to which Jonas dutifully
corrects the story, usually without skipping a beat.
end result is a very, very "Kwong" rendering of the story which is
vastly superior in diction and idiom to anything either of us could possibly
concoct - good as our knowledge of Kwong is. And it is a mostly dead-on true
rendering of the story. Once the story is over, Mark asks the kids questions
about what they heard, and frequently one or another of them will retell a huge
section of the story in every detail.
a performance would be a pity to waste, and as we mentioned, none of the adults
know these stories either, so we record each of them (hence the microphone in
the pictures - no we do not have a sound system in the church at
Chageen!) Diane then does her digital wizardry on the recordings, taking out
Mark's feigned confusion and rearranging those parts of the story that may have
gotten mixed up. The result is a high-quality recording which we combine with
some music (we've written several songs about the Joseph, the Exodus, Jericho,
and the judges) and a few words from one of the older pastors. These recordings
(there are over 50 of them as of mid 2009) are broadcast on the Voice of Chageen
on Monday evenings and seem to be by far the most popular of our broadcasts -
for adults as well as kids.