JIANGSU, China — Think about this.
By the time youths in China graduate from senior high school, they would have been exposed to various philosophies and scientific theories including the evolution theory. Many would have grown to be sceptical about absolute truth and the idea of a one true God.
This begs the question: how are the young in China ever going to have the Word of God hidden in their hearts before they are inundated by the world’s philosophies and theories?
The solution: by singing God’s word into their hearts while they are still young!
This is the answer offered by Yang Yue Ming, in his early thirties, who serves full-time with the Sunday School ministry in a church in Nanjing. “The young nowadays are very much exposed to influences of the world. So we hope to put God’s Word into their hearts so that they can carry it with them as they grow up,” explained Yang. “And for children, singing and dancing are effective ways to remember God’s Word. So, my dream is to set up a children’s choir one day!”
For those of us who grew up with Sunday School songs like Jesus Loves Me This Is Know and Jesus Loves the Little Children, we cannot agree more with Yang. Hence, together with six other teachers, Yang has been ministering every week to over 40 children, ranging from age four to 12 years old, since 2007 when the appendix building for the Sunday School ministry was completed.
“How our church Sunday School ministry started was quite ‘accidental’. As the church began to grow, we noticed children started coming in with their parents and grandparents,” shared Yang. “So we thought we should create some form of fellowship and Christian education for them. That’s how the ministry started!”
However, the beginning was not easy. The teachers did not have any set materials, so Yang resorted to downloading materials from various websites every week. “Even though those were Chinese materials, we find that it wasn’t the best for our context. So when we were introduced to the Hetao and Maizi materials early this year, we were elated!”
“Hetao” and “Maizi” are a series of Sunday School materials and teachers’ guide donated by UBS to the ministry. Published by the National CCC/TSPM to help Sunday School ministries across China, “Hetao” is Chinese for Walnut and “Maizi” for Wheat; they are suitable for kids two to five years old and six to 12 years old respectively.
Since then, Yang and his fellow teachers had attended training sessions where they learn how to conduct lessons using the new materials. One segment of the lesson plan in Hetao and Maizi is the song section, which recommends songs that tie in with the learning point. Thus, God’s Word is reinforced in the children’s hearts through the singing of songs.
“Now we even have some children who will encourage their peers to buy their own Bibles if they noticed that they do not yet own one. I think this shows that they believe God’s Word is important,” shared Yang.
With such enthusiastic children at the Sunday School ministry, Yang’s dream of setting up a choir and singing God’s Word into these young hearts seems not far from reality.
“Ultimately, my hope is that these children will grow up with the Word of God in them because the world and people will eventually fail them, but God will never fail them.”
Story: Cynthia Oh
Edited: Pamela Choo
Photos: Yeo Tan Tan and Cynthia Oh
2014 © United Bible Societies China Partnership