It has given me the ability to defend my faith

bible_college1“It helped me see all of the connections of the Bible more clearly so that I can be confident and equipped to share my faith with others.”

This was one of the comments received from students at a Bible institute in Ontario this past fall. GoodSeed staff members John Cross and Troy Johnstone were there to teach through By This Name as part of the students’ year of Bible studies. Over five days they taught a total of 24 hours, giving the young people the big-picture view of the Old and New Testaments, showing how God created templates in the Old that Jesus fulfilled in the New. We are grateful to this school for the opportunity to share with these young people who have given a year of their lives for Bible instruction.

One student, just 10 months earlier, had been begging for cash on the side of the street to support his drug habit. After checking into rehab he was given a copy of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, which was instrumental in him coming to understand the gospel. Now he is taking this year to study God’s Word as he prepares for a totally different life!

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It was the Bible stories that the kids kept talking about

kindergarten-504672_1280“Welcome to Bible time! I’m so glad you are here! Every day we will hear a story from God’s Word, the Bible.” Audrey* held up her Bible for the children to see, and then continued: “And the stories will help you to understand what the Bible is all about. Make sure you come back every day to get the big picture. It is like climbing the mountain. When you get to the top, you will see the big picture!”

The small classroom was filled wall to wall with children and their leaders. They sat cross-legged on the floor and looked up expectantly at Audrey. She stood beside the table full of visual aids—everything from stuffed animals to flannelgraphs to cut-outs of the cross and tomb. It was day one of Vacation Bible school. The children Audrey was teaching were from varied backgrounds—some churched, but many from broken homes and foster care. She had five days, one short session a day, to teach them the Bible’s story and help them understand the gospel.

Audrey had put a lot of prayer, thought and preparation into these Bible times. The purchased VBS curriculum had included material for a Bible time each day, but somehow it didn’t seem to be what was needed. Isolated Bible stories are just not suitable for children who know nothing about who Jesus is and what he did. They only had one week with these children and she couldn’t see how to adapt the assigned stories in a way that would clearly explain the gospel. The material also seemed watered down, missing key aspects of the gospel. Audrey decided to go back to square one and, with the blessing of the church leadership, made her own curriculum for the week.

So here she was, before the first group of expectant children, ages 6 through 12. All she had was her Bible, a worn copy of The Story that Matters, the visual aids and her notes.

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Even children can do this

traveling-72151_1280We were blessed recently by the following testimony. Here are parents who have been successful in passing on to their children a passion for sharing the gospel.

The kids love trains. So we decided to take them on a train ride downtown. We encouraged seven-year-old Daniel* to take some GoodSeed books along to give to people on the train. One of the ladies he asked took the book but we could tell right away she was uncomfortable with it. It wasn’t long before she tossed the book a few seats down from her. We prayed together with the kids that someone would come take the book who needed it. A few stops later, another lady sat down, picked up the book and started intently reading it. She was about 10 pages into it before we got off at our next stop! Daniel is learning how easy it is to give the gospel to others.

A few weeks later, we took another train ride for Aaron’s birthday and took more books along to give away to people. Daniel said, “We need more books! Look at all these people that might not know Jesus!” Five-year-old Aaron even built up the courage to give a book to a young mother. We left a copy of The Story that Matters on a table in the public gardens and prayed someone would pick this book up. Sure enough, just 10 seconds later, we were blessed to see a man sit down at the table and begin reading it. We are praying that the recipients of these books would come to learn the Good News and place their trust in Jesus.

We are excited to see how God is using our children to reach others for Him, even at such a young age. Their love and concern for others that don’t know Jesus is so neat to see and a challenge to us as adults to not be afraid to give away the gospel.

Giving away a book is simple. So simple that even children can do it. Daniel and Aaron used The Story that Matters like a jumbo gospel tract. At 64 pages, it is succinct but with enough details to provide someone with a good explanation of the gospel message. And at $1 a copy when bought in bulk, the book is affordable to give away. Why not follow Daniel and Aaron’s example and prayerfully take some books with you next time you’re on the train or bus or in a public venue?

(* All names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)

The launch of The Lamb in Faroese

20160513faroes1The Faroe Islands. A network of 18 islands, connected by tunnels and ferries and bridges, situated halfway between Iceland and Norway. As in centuries past, fishing remains the economic ballast, and the sheep dotting the hillsides seem to agree with the Danish name for the country: “islands of sheep.” It has a landscape marked by rocky coastlines and rugged terrain, with the misty shores, hidden harbours and colourful villages making it a photographer’s paradise. Around 50,000 people call this unique and beautiful country home.

This past May, GoodSeed staff member Allan Ellingsgaard, along with John and Janice Cross, spent three weeks in the Faroe Islands. This was a trip back home for Allan, since he was raised in the Faroe Islands. For John and Janice, this was their first time in the country. Despite the innate tourist appeal of the country, the scenery and culture was not what primarily drew them to the Faroes. All three were there for the dedication of the Faroese edition of The Lamb, which was hot off the press.

It was 16 years ago that Allan first dreamed of having a book like The Lamb in Faroese. At the time, he was a leader at a youth camp in the Faroes, and he wished there was a resource that would systematically and chronologically present the gospel to children. It’s not as though the Faroese youth didn’t know the Bible’s stories. The majority of people in the Faroe Islands are very familiar with the basic tenets of the Bible—95% of the population profess to be Christians. But what Allan longed to see was a resource that put all the pieces of the Bible’s message together in a very simple way that would have a broad use, regardless of the background of the individual.

In 2008, this dream started to become a reality when a missionary from the Faroe Islands contacted Allan about the possibility of translating The Stranger into Faroese. It was deemed wise to start with a smaller project, so The Lamb was suggested as an alternative. The missionary was keen on the idea and in 2011, he began the process of translating The Lamb.

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What were her true intentions?

book study

Rachelle* seems to always be guiding someone through the gospel message using Par ce nom, the French edition of By This Name. Though she never sets out searching for an individual to teach, the Lord regularly brings people into her life who desire to understand the Bible’s message. Amièle, a young teenager, was one such seeker.

Amièle had a rough start in life. Her home life was defined by upheaval and uncertainty, finally culminating with a move to live with her grandparents. When a friend invited her to attend church, she agreed and began joining the teen class each week. Though she attended for a year and a half, she still understood very little about the Bible. As this became more apparent, her Sunday school teacher asked Amièle if she would like to study a book called Par ce nom. The teachers would be Rachelle and the Sunday school teacher and the participants would be Amièle, the teacher’s daughter and a young man who was not a believer.

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Don’t stop! We want to hear more!

bonfireSummer Bible camp. How Megan* loved the week-long escape into the quiet of nature. The rustic cabins nestled among the evergreens, the liveliness of the campers, the crackling bonfires in the evening… it was all one big highlight. But there was something that brought even more joy to Megan, and that was watching God at work in the hearts of the campers.

When Megan was asked to be a main speaker at a girls’ Bible camp, she was more than willing to oblige. She also knew what she would talk about. Ever since she had attended a TERM Seminar, she had been sharing the gospel using a Creation-to-Christ approach. She decided to use the five days of camp to do this once again.

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They grabbed on to each truth

Chlldren reading The LambStephen and Geraldine* wanted to share their testimony. They wrote us the following email as an encouragement to other families who are going through, or have gone through similar circumstances:

Our family has been so richly blessed by The Lamb. We have been through the book several times with our children and have been excited to see how well they have grasped the gospel at a very early age. My wife and I have also been challenged to reconsider how well we grasped the gospel ourselves and how we can better teach it to others.

However, last year the rubber really met the road when we were faced with the tragic loss of our unborn child 19 weeks into the pregnancy. At that time our children were five, three, two and one years old.

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A providential mistake

Little girl reading The LambWe have great staff who look after all the orders coming in (via phone calls, online store and walk-ins) and they ensure each order is shipped out in a timely manner. However, occasionally a mistake is made and then we do our utmost to make sure we correct it to the best of our ability.

Last fall, one such mistake became a blessing in disguise—both for our customer as well as for us as a staff.

Lisa,* a French language teacher in a Christian school, had been introduced to GoodSeed resources by an enthusiastic friend. When she was given The Lamb to read to her four-year-old daughter, she did so several times, appreciating the simple and clear message the book contained. They especially connected with the explanation of the atoning lamb sacrifice and how it pictures Christ’s sacrifice for us. Lisa said, “It is written so clearly!”

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He was contemplating suicide that very morning

Lonely treeSome years ago, 19-year-old Reuben* attended a Bible study. He was not a believer but he wanted to learn the message of the Bible. He was given a book, The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus and, over a number of weeks, was taught the gospel message. At the end of the study, he put his trust in Christ for salvation.

After telling his family that he was now a believer, his younger brother Conner became very spiteful and gave Reuben a nasty time. Though this caused Reuben to struggle with his faith, he never gave up what he believed. Meantime, Conner simply made things worse. He terrorized his brother, both verbally and physically. What Reuben didn’t know at the time was that Conner was struggling to find any meaning in his life.

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Five ways to engage teenagers with Worldview Rethink

Reading notesWe joined our church this past summer and, after a few months, were asked to teach the youth Sunday school class. We were excited to get involved but a little nervous, since we didn’t know the students very well. Because we were already familiar with the Worldview Rethink curriculum, we decided it would be a good starting point. Now, we are about halfway through. Over the weeks, we’ve learned a few things that have helped us engage our youth with the Bible.

1. Include them in the process (visual aids)

We hosted a “Tabernacle Party” at our house one Sunday evening. The youth that came helped us assemble the tabernacle model. Besides this, we’ve also had the youth help locate materials and be responsible for our “How do I teach death using a branch” that illustrates our life apart from the source of life.

2. Help every participant be comfortable

Because the curriculum is set up to include everyone, the expectations are easy and clear. Any time there is a scripture reference that is italicized, the students read aloud. We have the youth decide who goes first and in which order they’ll take turns. Sometimes it’s clockwise and, at other times, it’s counterclockwise. Sometimes it’s random. It didn’t take long for them to be comfortable with participating. It may not seem like much, but we want to include them in every way possible!

3. Make sure no one gets left behind by doing a review each week

One of the challenges we’ve faced is not having the same group each week. We don’t want anyone to be confused if we make reference to a previous lesson. So each week, we take the first ten to fifteen minutes to carefully review what we’ve covered so far. In particular, we look at how each person or generation has attempted to bridge the chasm, caused by sin, to reach God. We’ve been impressed with the comprehension of the students, even those who have missed a session. (For those who want to catch up at home, they can watch the Learn about the Bible online course.)

4. Allowing plenty of time for questions

We’ve been intrigued by the questions that have come up as we’ve gone through this course. You can gauge what is being understood, and what previous biblical knowledge they may have (or may not have!), by the kinds of questions that are being asked. For example, we hear questions such as, “So the Israelites actually packed up everything in the Tabernacle and carried it around in the wilderness? How heavy was it? How far did they have to go? How many people did it take to carry everything?” When questions come up that will be covered later, the curriculum has a built-in way of not getting too sidetracked—the clothes basket visual aid has been invaluable, really!

5. Be available outside of class to build trust and answer questions

Sometimes we just can’t cover everything or answer questions as in depth as we might like. We made sure all the kids knew how to contact us if they thought of other questions or wanted more information. Being available to them has built trust and opened the door for all kinds of conversations that we may not have had without the Worldview Rethink class as a starting point.

Working with youth has unique challenges. But, each week we are impressed with the fact that each student, whether a new believer, a student seeking answers about the Bible, or one who has been raised in church, are all learning. These materials have been the perfect beginning point for us, as we navigate our new role as leaders and get to know the youth. Since the teaching is foundational and structured, it makes the time run smoothly.

As we continue through the course, we continue to pray for each one. It’s our prayer that each one might come to have the kind of clear and powerful understanding that will enable God to use them to share his message with others.

Additional thoughts

When you are going through a Worldview Rethink study in a Sunday school setting, there are three key factors to bear in mind. First is regular attendance. For Sunday school, the students tend to drop in and out of class. Each week, you might be faced with a slightly different group and so reviewing the gospel story covered so far is very important. As a teacher, you need to encourage regular attendance and devise a plan to allow students who have missed sessions to catch up. To help students who miss certain sessions stay on track, you can inform them of the pages that was covered. This way, students can read up on what they had missed and when they join the next class, they will not be behind the other students.

Second is the amount of teaching time you have for each lesson. Sunday school sessions are often short. Before a teacher can really get going, time runs out! If you can create a solid block of teaching time each week (an hour or more), it will help the story progress faster and in a more coherent manner.

The third factor is grasping the overall picture. Often in a Sunday school setting, the teaching becomes disjointed or fractured because of sporadic attention spans and short sessions. Because Worldview Rethink explains the gospel message as a chronological historical narrative, stretching the story over too many weeks may mean that the students do not get the full picture. It’s like watching ten minutes of a movie each week for ten weeks (and missing some segments). The story gets muddled because students are missing pieces of it.

So while the opportunity to teach Worldview Rethink in Sunday school is an exciting prospect, please bear these challenges in mind. If you have questions, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or write to us at hello[at]goodseed.com.