By Jennifer Macharia
On a hot afternoon, we arrive at Rehoboth Lighthouse Church, a beautiful sanctuary in rural Masvingo, Zimbabwe. The country is in the process of rebuilding after decades of recession and myriad of challenges. Overlooking the church is a newly constructed theology school with ivory walls and a grey roof. There’s a central flower bed bringing a touch of nature and color.
The sanctuary is almost empty except for one corner filled with boxed materials indicative of active ministry. Adjacent is a large table and chairs where the children are busy coloring. The beige walls and arched blue windows accentuate an airy feeling. The pulpit has a royal purple theme and distinct brown couches reserved for church leaders. Many flags represent nations affiliated with the church, and I’m glad to see the Kenyan flag, the flag of my home country. Unforgettable is a blue cross at the center of the main wall with a couple of microphones and drum sets.
Teacher Shinga and the youth pastor, Blessing, welcome us. We go around the table making acquaintances, and the children curtsey when they greet us as a sign of respect. Blessing is eager to share the Discovery Series’ impact on children here. His green safari-style shirt and broad smile complement his charismatic and joyful demeanor. He’s devoted to teaching children God’s Word, evidenced by his heart welling up with the desire to see Zimbabwe’s children transformed.
Blessing begins by sharing his outlook on these children. “They’re active, lovable, and brilliant. I believe that children are at the heart of God’s Kingdom,” he says. He quotes Matthew 19:14 ERV, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children.”
The Discovery Series reaches children at a critical age and gives them a solid foundation in God. Children can relate to Bible stories in everyday life, so the stories influence their choices. Pastor Blessing attests that since the program’s onset, the children have enjoyed attending the classes. More children participate in the classes, and the pictures in the books and the coloring captures their attention.
The 14-piece suite features teaching manuals, student Bible study booklets, and coloring books. The interactive nature of the lessons plays an instrumental role in shaping children’s hearts using God’s Word. This creative tool teaches children to use pictures, imprinting images in their minds that they recall easily. It also helps with development as younger children practice using crayons.
Pastor Blessing joins the children in the coloring session, and it’s lovely to see the children sharing crayons and showing their finished work to him. He acknowledges each child’s work, to which they respond with beaming faces.
“I like the booklet because it simplifies the Bible stories and helps me understand God’s Word,” says 11-year-old Nenyasha. “I’ve learned from the story of the 10 Commandments that following God is the best way to live. God wants us to learn his teachings and laws.”
We meet nine-year-old Vision, who is dressed in a yellow and red checkered uniform. She loves the Discovery Series books because they help her make short prayers. And Abraham and Sarah’s story has taught her that God will keep His promises to her. She recites her favorite verse–Jeremiah 29:11. It assures her that God has good plans for her.
At 11 years old, Margaret has been impacted by the story of Joseph. “I have learned that God will protect us from our enemies. We can trust He has a special plan for us even if we cannot see it,” she says. “I have changed because I now enjoy reading the Bible and believe other children should use these books to learn how to color and share. Thank you, Bible League!”
The manuals have simplified Pastor Blessing’s teaching. Before, he had to create a curriculum. “The Discovery Series compiles everything for the teacher; all one has to do is read and understand the content. And there’s strong theological content that correlates with the children’s book. Now the teachers look forward to teaching Sunday school,” he says.
He has noticed that children are the most neglected group in many churches, yet God has ordained praise in their lips. His favorite Bible verse is Psalm 8:2 ERV, “From the mouths of children and babies come songs of praise to you. They sing of your power to silence your enemies seeking revenge.” He recommends including children in the praise and worship since they’re also involved in the day-to-day spiritual battles.
Teacher Shinga has been instructing children for four years, and I wanted to know what her name meant. “Shinga means brave,” she told me. Her commanding voice, bold disposition, and striking mustard dress were evidence that her name matched her personality.
Previously, she used biblical drama and memory verses to engage the children in God’s Word. Asked what difference the Discovery Series books had on the children, she replied immediately. “They are receiving the materials very well, especially the coloring books; the activity has taught them how to share things,” Shinga says. “It’s also playful, and they’re learning how to interact with each other very well.”
Parents are elated that their children are boldly sharing memory verses and know how to pray, something they couldn’t do before. Many of the kids now volunteer to pray during meals.
Teacher Shinga affirms that the books have taught the children to read and understand God’s Word. “As the children color the Bible character of Joseph with the coat of many colors, it brings the Bible to life,” she says.
She thanks Bible League for providing structured Discovery Series books, making teaching children easier. “I love this program because it’s targeting children; when you teach them while they’re still young, they won’t depart from it,” she says, referencing Proverbs 22:6. “They’ll grow up knowing His Word and living the way of the Lord.”
This transformation has also made a difference in the lives of parents. Kids are excited to showcase the pictures they colored, and parents are equally happy, some even asking to join the classes. Some parents urge neighbors to send their children to church because of the change they see in their own kids. Often, kids are reached first, then the whole family eventually joins the church, meaning the churches here are growing. The community is pleased their children are deterred from evil and nurtured in God’s Word at a tender age.
In Crow borough, a high-density suburb in Zimbabwe, we visit a daycare where young kids are using the materials. We talk to the kids and teachers under a large mango tree overlooking a black veranda of the main house.
“The children love the Discovery Series books very much; they when I share the stories and they get to color,” states teacher Monica. She’s been teaching children for three years using her digital Bible. She noted a significant change in the children’s interactions with the books; it has enhanced their fine motor skills using crayons.
The daycare is a small room with colorful hanging artwork and colorings of Bible characters. The little ones are dressed sharply in white and red uniforms and black shoes. Some fearlessly recite memory verses while others are engrossed in their coloring books. Adele, a bold five-year-old girl, warms our hearts. Her immense love for memorizing Scripture is evident when she begins to speak.
“There was darkness; then God said, let there be light. Then the light began to shine… let me make a man and a helper for him. Eat all the fruit except the tree at the center. Then the snake lied to them, and they ate the fruit. Then God punished all of them,” she recites confidently.
Children naturally gravitate toward Monica, the soft-spoken teacher, and they have since she was a child. So, as an adult, she trained as a teacher as she enjoys interacting with the young ones. She believes training children in God’s Word at an early age keeps them from heading in the wrong direction. “Nowadays, young people abuse drugs, but if we instill God’s Word in children, they won’t lose their way. Thank you, Bible League, for providing the Discovery Series books and remembering the young children. The books have made teaching children the Word of God easier.”
Pastor Caroline, the mother of one of the children, attests to the program’s impact. She invites us to her home, where the children use the Discovery Series materials. We meet Princess, her seven-year-old daughter, a petite girl in a white lace dress with a deep voice. She loves the program and recites Philippians 4:4 (ERV), “Always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy.”
Pastor Caroline has seen the impact of the program in her own home. “My daughter’s behavior has changed; she’s respectfully speaking to me. She’s helping with the house chores, unlike before. She’s gained courage and is participating in church doing memory verses.”
We conclude our visit with one remarkable young boy named Tanaka. The future is bright for this nine-year-old who loves reading God’s Word. We watch him narrate the creation story to his classmates and read from the book of Genesis. His internalization of Scripture is impressive; we can hear his passion and see the program’s impact on him. The program is developing young leaders to disciple their generation for God.
“I love the Discovery Series booklet because it teaches us that God protects us always,” he says. His favorite Bible story is of Noah and the Ark, which he shares from memory. His authoritative voice and engaging eyes strike us. He shares his beloved verse, Psalm 23:1 (ERV) “The Lord is my shepherd. I will always have everything I need.” This verse reassures him that God is always the provider. “I thank Bible League for publishing these booklets and urge them to make more so that other children may know the Word of God.”
Pastor Blessing sees the potential impact from a program like this, one that will change more than his community. “Society changes once the Gospel impacts the children and they understand the Word,” he says. “If Bible League can send the books to many other countries, we can change the world.”
Jennifer Macharia is a Bible League Communications Manager located in our Kenya office. She covers stories of God’s goodness across Africa and in Europe.