CHINA– Zhang Xuezhan, 35, a Sunday School teacher in a church in western China, is the oldest child in her family. Having lost her father when she was small, she helped take care of her two younger siblings. And through that she saw the importance of imparting the right values to the next generation.
“This is a calling and mandate from God. I believe we should not delay any further; the children are the next generation of Christians. Time is not on our side, they are growing up everyday. It’s our responsibility to see that they are well brought up with Christian values,” shared Zhang.
However, Zhang did not always have in her a sense of urgency for children’s ministry. In fact, it took a government edict to bring her to church.
“I told God that if I had more time, I will attend church more regularly,” shared Zhang, “And little did I expect the government would order that my fashion boutique shop be closed to make way for road construction and I have to honor my word to God!” And subsequently, she was encouraged by her friend to be involved in the Sunday School ministry which has a regular attendance of about 40 children today.
Besides the urgency to educate the children, there is also a dire need to equip the teachers too.
The volunteers here have not gone through any formal training in conducting Sunday School lessons or running a Sunday School ministry.
“None of us are professional teachers. We mostly learn on the job and we sense that we are lacking in terms of a more structured and systematic way of running the ministry. Also because of the lack of volunteers, we have to juggle between catering to the needs of both the younger and older children besides thinking of ways to make the lessons engaging,” explained Zhang, seated in the church’s simple Sunday school classroom, which caters to children ranging from four to 13 years old.
Not unlike children from other cities, those found in this city are also busy with after-school enrichment and tuition classes that are mostly conducted on weekends. As a result, the Sunday School teachers find that they are competing with these external influences for time and attention of the children.
To help the ministry, a series of Sunday School materials and teachers’ guide—“Hetao” (Walnut, for younger children) and “Maizi” (Wheat, for older children) have been donated to them.
“We want to thank the donors for these materials. We find them very useful and accessible. It’s very systematic and has good content. The teachers’ guide help us to personally learn the lesson first before sharing with the children,” reported Zhang enthusiastically who just received the resources. “Now, we also hope to receive some training in conducting the lessons and using the materials.”
When asked what keeps her going in ministry, she replied, “It is the love of God. Whenever I ponder on the sacrifices made by the Lord Jesus for me on the cross, all of my labour for Him becomes worth it. Plus, there really should not be any more delaying in helping the children to know God and His word.”
Story: Cynthia Oh
Edited: Pamela Choo
2013 © United Bible Societies China Partnership