AWANA stands for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed, coming from 2 Timothy 2:15 which states, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of truth.” The curriculum AWANA international uses was developed in conjunction with New Tribes Mission to develop a very strong doctrinal foundation in the children. Scripture memorization is an essential part of the program. Until January 2014, AWANA was only in the bigger cities in South Africa.
Hope of Africa and AWANA teamed up in a pilot project to reach children in rural South Africa with the Word of God, train youth in leadership skills, and serve and inspire communities. We were able to accomplish these goals by training a team of local teachers, students graduated from High School but not yet in college (gap year students), and High School students. We found that we were meeting a serious need in the children’s ministries. Many churches did not have a set curriculum for their Sunday schools, and the children were not receiving a firm foundation of the gospel. The AWANA curriculum met the need for consistent, foundational, gospel teaching. Some pastors were so impressed with the curriculum, they started using it to prepare their Sunday sermons.
HISTORY OF AWANA PARTNERSHIP
FIRST SEED PLANTERS TRAINING: 2014
Joseph Mbange is the sub-Saharan AWANA director. He brought a team from Zambia to hold a conference teaching how to start an AWANA program. The conference trained Sunday school teachers and other children’s workers how to implement the AWANA program in their church or program. 96 people were trained, representing 35 churches/programs, and approximately 1,500 children attended those churches/programs.
Three months later, there was a followup training to check up with the trainees and see how they were getting along with the AWANA program. It was a time of encouragement and fellowship, as well as additional training. We were updated that 23 churches were consistently doing AWANA, and approximately 1,600 children were attending AWANA in these churches.
We held a graduation celebration as a time for encouragement to continue in the strength of the Lord, to maintain energy and consistency, and to celebrate the work the Lord has done this past year. We also had a couple sessions of some advanced training. There were 34 attendees from 19 churches. We were very encouraged by the report they gave. There were 1,947 children attending AWANA in these 19 churches this past year, and 488 of those children have made professions of faith. From last year to this year, there was a 120% increase in AWANA attendance of the 19 churches represented.
TRAIN THE TRAINERS TRAINING: 2015
The purpose of the Train the Trainers Training (TTT) was to train a small group of the leaders who attended the Seed Planters Training in 2014 to facilitate and teach other SPT Conferences. This eliminates the need for an international team to come, and provides a way to establish a team to hold numerous SPTs all over Nkomazi as more communities are interested in introducing the AWANA curriculum to their churches. 2 trainers came from Johannesburg to train 9 trainees from 8 churches.