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.
In January 2014, Hope of Africa partnered with AWANA International to do a pilot that would work in rural areas of South Africa in order to reach more vulnerable populations of youth. Many of the young people we work with through Hope of Africa are from child led households and have personally faced many challenges poverty can bring. Thus, we trained our youth in Awana materials, and began working with our network of church’s to teach their leaders working with youth and children. Currently, in 2018, we have over 125 churches involved in Awana in 11 circuits, which represent over 6,000 children that attend the Awana program weekly in their local church. Our youth continue to facilitate training, and teach new teachers, as well as personally invest in children needing hope by sharing their personal testimonies of what God has done.
Since Hope of Africa and AWANA teamed up in our pilot project, we have seen hundreds of vulnerable children in rural South Africa come to faith. This partnership has been a win win as we teach the Word of God, train youth in leadership skills, and serve and inspire communities. We continue to train teams of local teachers with our gap year students and High School (secondary) students. We continue to receive invitations from other churches as they hear from other churches how this program is 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. It is a joy to continue partner with Awana International as we equip emerging leaders and expand opportunities for local churches to be better equipped to serve their children and youth.
AWANA GAMES: One of the highlights of our year, is watching all of our finalist teams compete for a trophy that represents a lot of team work, hard work, and dedication. It is a healthy competition where everyone enjoys meeting one another and getting to know others in their region that are equally active in their local church communities.
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.