A couple of months ago I wrote a little about the talk I gave to the Christian Fellowship at the University on peace, and particularly the value of the necessary preparation, not just to be able to talk but to think through the issues as part of my own walk with God.
Well, this morning I was leading the 9-10 year old Sunday School class at Dar es Salaam Pentecostal Church, and the theme was, 'What should we pray for?' Previous experience working with the 5-7 year old group at Holy Trinity, Leicester, is that in preparing for such a class, there are three key questions to ask: firstly, what is the key learning point for me in this session? Secondly, what is the key point or small number of points I am wishing to communicate to the youngsters? And thirdly, how am I going to go about this communication? My own view is that if the first two questions have been thoroughly considered, then answering the third tends to be pretty straightforward, it's easy to succumb to the temptation of going straight to the 'what are we going to do?' question without really considering what we are trying to achieve.
So, preparation was with the help of my study Bible (birthday present just about a year ago, many thanks, Mum and Dad!) in finding a number of passages on prayer, then getting the children working in groups looking up the passages to see what the Bible has to say we should pray for. So, we see examples of praying for peace, for protection, for healing, for strength in our witness, for forgiveness, to know more God's glory, and many others. Have to say, the way the youngsters worked together on this task was quite humbling, really.
After we'd heard from each group I then suggested that it would be really good to pray for James (not his real name) who would be a member of this group except that he's seriously ill at the moment undergoing medical treatment abroad. So we thought back over what we'd learn from the Bible, how can we turn this in to a prayer for James? And then one person from each of the groups prayed.
We finished by starting making cards for cards for James, we'll finish them next week, his father texted me during the week so I can ask him for a postal address to send them to. I made my own example at home, except that when the moment came I couldn't bring myself to draw a picture on the front, so instead stuck on a postcard from London of soldiers outside Buckingham Palace. Somewhat to my surprise one of the boys asked if he could borrow this so that he could copy the picture for his card! Hope it will make sense when it arrives.
Of course, we sang at the beginning: 'Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah, praise ye the Lord!' which involves a fair bit of standing up and sitting down, 'We want to see Jesus lifted high' and 'Who's the King of the jungle?' - I sold the last one on the basis that it would be a good song to teach younger brothers and sisters.
So, I enjoyed the session, hope they did also. I learnt from the preparation and communication, I hope and pray that their own prayer lives will be strengthened by considering what it is that we can pray for, and that when the time comes for them to make their own decisions as to whether to come to church or not and to continue their Christian faith into adulthood, they will do so. There is no doubt in my mind that there is considerable leadership potential within the group, and (a theme I'll maybe return to in a future post) that world leadership of Christianity will increasingly fall to Africa in the coming decades. What a privilege to have a small but hopefully important role in their development as Christians, I thank God for the opportunity He has given me.