Igniting the fire to bring children to Christ

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Today for Tomorrow is supported by SIM Malawi project #MW96850 Children’s Ministry Capacity Building

Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ Matthew 19:14. The Today for Tomorrow Programme is looking to give Sunday School Teachers the skills needed to allow Jesus’ word to come true in Malawi.


Chris Maphosa is a man full of energy and enthusiasm for the work to which he has been called – training Sunday School teachers. He is also a man on a mission. “I have come to ignite the fire, and to keep it burning in Malawi, to reach more children for Jesus Christ through the Today for Tomorrow programme,” he said.

Chris, a SIM Regional Missionary based in Zimbabwe, is the Regional Manager for the Region of Southern Africa for the Today for Tomorrow Programme - an area which cover around 12 countries. Today for Tomorrow is a children’s ministry which looks to share Christ’s love for children and to introduce children to Him.

It is a training programme which looks to equip Sunday School Teachers and or children’s workers with the skills necessary to work with children in four key development areas: spiritual, physical, emotional and mental. Chris recently travelled to Malawi from Zimbabwe to run a Training of Trainers event in Lunzu near Blantyre for Sunday School Teachers from the Africa Evangelical Church (AEC). Delegates came from as far north as Mzuzu, from the Lakeshore and Lilongwe in the Central Region and from Blantyre and Chikwawa in the south.

T4T Lunzu:  Delegates to the Today for Tomorrow (T4T) training event in Lunzu with Chris Maphosa (far left in yellow shirt)

The Lunzu event was not the first time Chris has been to Malawi to train people and, as he explained, Today for Tomorrow is already having a major impact across the AEC.

“This is my second time in Malawi to train trainers in Today for Tomorrow,” he said.

“I first came about a year ago and we had a training event in Ngabu in the south. The people we trained at that event are doing a wonderful and great job. As I speak, we are reaching about 30,000 children with the Today for Tomorrow programme.”

Translation: Revd Boniface Milanzi acting as a translator for Chris at Lunzu

A significant aspect of the programme is the workbooks of which Chris is one of the founding authors. The first book and training manual has recently been translated into Chichewa for use in Malawi. It was this workbook which first alerted the AEC and their Children’s Ministry Co-ordinator, Revd Boniface Milanzi, who was instrumental in translating the material.

“For many years the AEC was only looking to develop children from a spiritual point of view,” said Boniface.

“Today for Tomorrow is teaching us to look at the child spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. So, for example, if a child is ill or is not physically fit, it is very hard for us to develop that child spiritually. We need to look at the child in a wholistic way and this is what Today for Tomorrow is teaching us.

“There is also the need to develop good relationships with the child. We cannot evangelise someone if we do not have a good relationship with them. We also need to help children to learn how to react when, for example, they are being hurt or they are disappointed, and those things are also why the AEC is so involved with Today for Tomorrow.”

Today for Tomorrow is not a ‘Sunday Only’ programme. There is a key role for the community to play as well as the church. The training is designed so that teachers, parents and carers can get involved and so that mid-week events can be included as well as Sunday School teaching. It also looks at delivering a strong HIV/AIDS-prevention message, giving children information necessary to live lives which will help to slow down and to prevent the spread of the virus/disease.

Getting the wider community involved was an important learning point for one delegate in Lunzu. Justina is from the AEC in Chikwawa in the south of the country.

“When children are growing up they need to have parents and teachers who can read the Bible to them and sing songs with them,” she said.

“If we can train them today, tomorrow and forever they shall know the good news of being in the Kingdom of God, the goodness of following in God’s steps. We want to make these kids disciples of Jesus while they are still young,” she said.

Learning new skills to help people work with children was an important part of the training; passing those skills on to other people was another vital component of the Today for Tomorrow programme.

“I am very optimistic at how this training is going because the group we have are all excited about learning new skills and putting them into practice,” said Chris.

Studying: One of the delegates getting to grips with the Today for Tomorrow workbook

“Once this week of training is finished, these people will go back to their churches and communities, and the idea is that they will each train five more people. These five will then go and train five more and so on and so on. By doing this I am confident that thousands and thousands of children are going to be reached for Jesus across Malawi.”

Another delegate on the training, Phillip from AEC Soche near Blantyre, also spoke about gaining new skills.

“I know that I am a child of God and I want to learn new skills to help others to become God’s children,” he said.

“After I have finished the training, I will use the skills I have learned to teach others how they can teach children about the Lord and to bring them into the House of God and for these children to know that God is our Saviour.”

As Chris said, the pilot schemes and first round of Training of Trainers has meant that around 30,000 children have been impacted by the Today for Tomorrow programme. So, is he confident that even more will benefit when the latest batch of trainees get back to their churches?

“Yes, I am very confident indeed, and the Lord will do it; that is His way, Amen!” he said.

 


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