What do Borneo, California and Iraq have in common?
A few years ago, a literacy specialist from California began work among one of the rural communities in the Patip language cluster in Borneo, Indonesia (OneBook supports the Laman, Lowu, and Lewun projects in the Patip cluster). She developed an excellent mother tongue literacy program to be used for kindergarten students, but no matter how hard she worked and how much she networked, the response from teachers and principals remained lukewarm.
Finally, she made some radical changes in her approach. She still created “Big Books” with short texts, colorful pictures and many fun student activities, but instead of using popular stories as the basis for her lessons, she and a team of Patip believers began to use simple Bible stories, first from Genesis, then from other selections of the Old and New Testaments. The curriculum was created for not just kindergartners, but for multiple age levels of Sunday School kids.
The new program was an immediate success!
Sunday School teachers loved it because it was simple to use and the kids loved hearing the stories and doing the activities. Pastors loved it because their Sunday School children heard God’s story in a language they could easily understand.
Teachers from other towns and mother tongues signed up for the training and Sunday School classes started to spring up in towns that had not had Sunday school until now. Pretty soon the Patip team was invited to train teachers how to adapt and expand the curriculum for other communities and mother tongues all over Indonesia. Eager teachers came from all over the country to be trained at the Patip office!
The program continues to grow today! Recently the literacy consultant had to move back to California for visa and family reasons. She became active in her home church there. When the church was looking for ways to minister to Arabic-speaking refugees from Iraq in their community, it adopted an English version of the Patip Sunday School program to reach these Iraqis in their new California home.
Now Muslim children from Iraq hear the story of God’s love and learn to read and write English because the ministry volunteers of a church in California are reaching out to them through a Sunday School program that was developed by a group of Patip believers in Indonesia!
One 12-year old girl from Iraq in this program recently shared a poem with her refugee father that included:
Until now I’m still searching
For someone who’ll erase my fears
For the person who’ll wipe my tears
This literacy consultant in California said, “Please pray that through the relationships developed with this ministry, this young girl and others will come to know the only ONE who can transform their lives.”
Amen! The Gospel is going forth in unique and creative ways. “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)