Christian leaders in Guyana learn how to shine a light in the darkness to children through a 12-week discipleship course.
In Linden, an interior mining town, a group of men and women gather to learn about how to teach The Greatest Journey, a post-shoebox 12-lesson Bible study course guiding children through what it means to faithfully follow Christ. They are young and old, Sunday school and public school teachers who are all volunteering their time to serve Christ.
For many, the event was the first time that any of them had experienced educational training of any kind.
“I realized that I need to change my teaching strategies,” said Odessa, a trainee at the event.
A teacher herself, she was impressed with the training provided by the Operation Christmas Child National Leadership Team in Guyana.
“It was an awesome training, the plan, and organization,” she said. “As teachers, we often try to reach children at our level and not theirs.”
The training provides teachers with materials to lead children through The Greatest Journey, a New Testament for each child, and a framework to continue writing lesson plans. And they are seeing the impact of their efforts.
The Greatest Journey is building up a generation of Christian leaders who we hope can address problems that have deeply impacted the country and the church.
The Challenges Ahead
Currently, Guyana has the world’s highest suicide rate.
Though there is no definitive cause, some of the contributing factors include poverty in rural areas, the prevalence of alcohol abuse, and easy access to deadly substances.
Many of the children within The Greatest Journey speak of the trials and challenges they face.
“One child drew a drawing about their parents with a stick and a bottle,” said Neville Remkissoon, a pastor and volunteer with the National Leadership Team.
“My parents drink a lot,” the child said. “I’m praying for them so they can stop drinking and go to church.”
Neville helps train and equip teachers to minister to children through The Greatest Journey and to share the light of the Gospel during some of their darkest times.
Because of a Gift
Grace is a first-grade teacher and a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey. She recently helped organize a teacher training for The Greatest Journey in Linden.
Through her volunteer role, Grace was able to distribute a small number of shoeboxes to students at her school.
Alisha* was 8 years old. She lived at home with her parents and brothers and was usually withdrawn at school.
“I would notice from time to time that her eyes would be swollen or see something on her skin,” Grace said. “We would always see something.”
So, Grace saw an opportunity and gave Alisha a shoebox.
“I gave her the shoebox gift, and she was so happy,” she said. “And because of the gift, I was able to tell her that Jesus loves her.”
Alisha was particularly in love with a doll in her shoebox and said that the doll would protect her.
Later, Alisha shared with Grace that she was being both physically and sexually abused at home.
“Because of the gift, she opened up to me,” Grace said. “If I had not given her that box, she would not have felt like she could talk to me.”
Grace reported the situation to the authorities, and the little girl was removed from the home.
Many children in Guyana face situations similar to Alisha’s. Volunteers with Operation Christmas Child continue to reach out to these lost and broken children with the light of Jesus Christ.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NKJV).
*Name changed for security.