By Rev Jim Stothers
Last August I had the privilege of spending three weeks in Africa as a sabbatical, and I was struck by how hungry people were to hear God’s word.
I visited Uganda first and found 200 local pastors eager to be taught from Scripture. You might expect that from pastors, but in Kenya I found a similar hunger from children.
I was in a very remote part of Kenya – five hours from the nearest town, 12 from the nearest tarred road; no mains electricity, television or internet – no mobile phone or even a landline.
We drove out one day to collect some children aged nine and under for a Junior Youth Camp.
It took three or four hours to reach the furthest settlement (they are a semi-nomadic people) and the same time back with 25 children in one Land Rover!
Their day at camp started at 6am – I knew because I could hear the drum-beat as the 220 children sang hymns to that accompaniment.
Breakfast was about 7am and the first session from 9.30 to 11. About half of this was praise and prayer, mostly led by the children themselves and included 45 minutes of Bible teaching from an adult – no visual aids!
After a break for chai (sweet milky tea) there was another 90-minute session taking them up to lunch, a short rest and then a third similar session.
After games and tea, the final meeting of each day was a ‘Revival Meeting’ at 7.30pm. Here the teaching became preaching with a view to the children making a commitment, finishing after 9.30pm.
I gave some of the talks over the three days. On the final evening I looked at those 220 children, some as young as three, and noticed that only a handful looked tired or sleepy – they were still as eager to sing and pray and listen to the Bible being taught as they were at 6am. And all on a diet that we would say lacked nutrition.
When and how did we lose this eagerness for God’s word in ourselves and in our children?