I am not even sure where to begin. Christian Youth in Action in Ranomafana was amazing. The ‘teens’ were between 11 and 15 years old and they worked so hard during the training. As we were out wandering around they would point out places they thought would be perfect for doing open air ministry. As we went to the market in the morning they would invite any child in sight (and adults) to their afternoon 5 Day Clubs. During lunch break they would rush to practice their Reader’s Theater missionary story, all talking excitedly and figuring out what characters they would be. The mornings during the week of 5 Day Clubs, they had time to practice what they would be teaching by themselves. I explained they needed to practice out loud, but not just read or go over things in their head. Each morning they would spread out over the grounds and enthusiastically begin teaching trees, rocks, grass, and any number of things. After practicing for a certain tree, they would announce that they were pretty sure the tree was saved and went to find a new tree. And they didn’t just whisper, they taught loudly and I wasn’t sure how anyone was able to concentrate, but it seemed to work for everyone. One of the boys, after excitedly and loudly teaching a tree that wasn’t too far from the road, goes, “Tara, I think the people walking by think I am crazy...” Not that this stopped him I noticed… J Then one evening we had a practice time and since it was dark, I explained that they needed to find a place inside the church and go over their lessons IN THEIR HEADS but not out loud because they couldn’t spread out. Yeah…..everyone just begin teaching out loud to windows and benches. That church was so loud, I could hardly answer questions and help, but hey, it seemed to work for them.
As I watched the little 11 year old on my team (who was so tiny and seriously came up to like my elbow) teach her Bible lesson at club, I couldn’t help but wonder what God has planned for these enthusiastic kids. The kids would occasionally tease the only 15 year old boy (the rest of the boys were around 12 years old) and call him ‘pastor’ which he was just fine with. Henriette asked them why they called him ‘pastor’ and they were like because when the teacher at school asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said he wanted to be a pastor. When the Bible teacher spoke one morning, she explained that what you become when you grow up is something that God chooses for you and gifts you for. And by the look on his face, I knew God had already called him. During the week I watched him grow as he taught the kids. And I couldn’t help but wonder what plans God had for this boy’s life. These were the kids I have been praying for. A new generation of leaders who love the Lord with all their hearts, are true believers, and who know their Bibles and won’t just follow whatever they hear from others.
The club my team taught was a good walk away and our club consisted of many, many adults. The adults would play all the games with the kids, laughing as they used a magnet fishing pole to catch a fish with points on it for their teams or being blind folded to pin the tail on the sheep. And after club when the kids who had responded to the invitation stayed to be counseled for salvation, many of the adults also responded to the invitation and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It was amazing to see not just children or ladies but the men also being counseled by the teens and accepting Jesus. Each day, the teens left club so excited about what God had done.
Friday evening, we arrived back in Ranomafana where the teens are from, and Henriette and I were soooo tired!!! Not only was there only the two of us teaching and doing club demonstrations, but as a group we all pitched in to cook meals (over a fire none the less), clean, and fetch water. I had a few hours before I needed to get on the bus back to Tana, so Henriette and I were sitting at her house talking over the week and two of the girls come running up the path to her house (where do they get all this energy???) And Raozy excitedly asks Henriette what time she is leaving the next morning to teach a Good News Club and meet with a pastor (this as I am imagining a day of sleep….). Henriette says she will probably leave and 7:30am. Both girls, with their eyes shining go, ‘can we go with you??’ I sat their watching the three of them planning who was teaching what the next day and once again I couldn’t help but praise God for the work He was doing in these girls’ lives. When they left, Henriette said, ‘these kids are the hope for the work of CEF here. I am getting old and can’t do what I used to do, but now I can with them.’ And for like the millionth time over those two weeks, I was completely in awe of what God was doing.
I wish you could experience it first hand. A blog post just can’t describe it. Cooking over camp fires, bathing in the little rivers that run between the rice patties, no internet or phone service, a night sky so jam packed with stars it isn’t even funny, sitting around talking and laughing with the teens, how it takes all 12 of them to go with me to make photocopies, rice three times a day, how my mattress somehow mysteriously got pushed up against the line of girls’ mattresses and after the first night you could not longer tell where my mattress supposedly began or ended, the teens giving me little barrettes for my hair (and being totally thrilled when I wore them) or giving me part of the snack they had just bought, walking out to club each day with my team, never ever being alone, and best of all, having a front row seat watching God work.Thank you so much for the huge part you played in CYIA through your prayers and financial support! I am so thankful for you!