East Africa ministry uses messaging apps to continue children's ministry
Nazarene Children for Christ Ministries for East Africa, a discipleship ministry that works in six countries, is using social media and messaging applications to continue teaching children throughout the pandemic.
“We want to see that children in East Africa know God,” said Rebecca Nakasango, one of the partners in Uganda. “We know [our team of four] cannot reach each child in East Africa, and that is why we work with the district superintendents, district directors, Sunday school teachers, pastors, and parents to reach every child.”
Originally, Nazarene Children for Christ Ministries for East Africa encouraged the implementation of children’s ministry in local Nazarene churches by offering in-person training on how to teach the Bible to the community. The team also trained people to help them pass on this knowledge to others, further expanding the ministry's reach.
Different social distancing and lockdown requirements both within and among the six countries of Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Tanzania meant that the team could no longer meet in person.
“We were asking, ‘What should we do with the children who used to meet with us before?’” Nakasango said. “Then, God gave us the idea of having online training for parents to [help them] learn their responsibilities of teaching their children.”
Although the ministry takes place in six countries, dozens of languages are represented.
“In Kenya alone, we have 53 languages,” said Sarah Reed, a missionary and one of the ministry partners. “So that’s why we work with our district directors because we can hope [our team and the director] speak a common language.”
Nakasango writes and produces the majority of the curriculum with some help from the other team members. She also organized the first Zoom meeting over the summer for district superintendents and teachers and is already planning to have another session after positive feedback from the participants.
The material is distributed over WhatsApp and email, but while the internet makes things easier, it does not solve all the problems.
“Not all of our parents have access to the internet or to smartphones,” Reed said. “So we can’t just say ‘Everyone connect!’ because it’s not possible. So, we have to be intentional and we keep praying.”
Nazarene Children For Christ Ministries for East Africa is looking forward to the future and what it holds for their communities, especially as more meetings happen and more children are able to hear about God.
“We have seen a great change in our children, even when we can’t go to church,” Nakasango said. “They are not attending but they are still learning the Word of God. They are being good examples to their neighbors and friends.”