Boom, boom, boom went the sticks on the garamut drum each morning to herald the start of the Sunday School teachers’ workshop. The church leaders in the Sos Kundi language group living in the remote East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea welcomed the new ideas presented in the workshop. They discovered they could use local materials found in nature to make Bible stories come alive.
One local material they used was the sago plant. Teachers manipulated its leaves to make the snake in the Garden of Eden, stars for the story of God’s promise to Abraham, and balls for the sling shots in the David and Goliath story. They also dug up clay from the riverbank to create miniature replicas of Noah’s boat, and rolled up banana leaves for trumpets announcing the return of Christ.
The Bible stories also came alive through interactive games. Participants thought of Noah as they raced their boats, talked about Abraham as they hunted for stars, and imitated David the shepherd boy as they aimed their sling shots. Their leaf-rocks may not have been strong enough to bring down the giant Goliath, but they did make the story memorable.
The thirty-three Sos Kundi teachers learned and practiced the lessons each morning, and in the afternoons taught the lessons to local children. When the trainers left the village, the teachers were filled with new ideas about how to make the Bible relevant and exciting to their students. The Sos Kundi people also gained a fresh enthusiasm for the ongoing translation of God’s Word in their language.
At the conclusion of the workshop, the pastor’s wife said, “I was a Sunday school teacher for many years, but I only used a blackboard and chalk. Now I realize that I can use different things to help children learn God’s Word, even games!”
One lady from a neighboring village announced, “I want to start a Sunday school in my community.”
A young man entreated the staff, “We want you to come back!” His comment reflected the attitude of the entire community, and their gratefulness for the workshop.