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A Word About Curriculum

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For most of us, summer is the perfect time to rest and recover from a busy season. It’s also a when we make important preparations for the upcoming ministry year.  For the Family Ministries Team, summer preparations usually involve choosing and laying the groundwork for new resources and curricula.
 
So how do we evaluate and implement new curricula? 
 
Family Ministries’ staff and volunteers have often heard my motto: Let the curriculum serve us, not the other way around. This means we should never hesitate to eliminate parts of a program that isn’t effective. It also implies that no curriculum should ever be implemented without care and discernment.
 
We were reminded of this warning in this recent article by Faithfully Magazine which claims that “ROAR”, our recently purchased curriculum for Kids Night Out (our version of VBS) contains dialogue and activities which are racially insensitive. I believe the people who published this curriculum have wonderful, godly intentions. But they definitely missed some things here the first time around. And in my opinion, the concerns listed in the article are insightful, important, and raise awareness for all of us.
 
It’s helpful for us to remember that no one is perfect and we all have our blind spots, and I’m pleased that the publishers of ROAR apologized and revised the curriculum at no cost.
 
In light of this, how can we make the best choices and good use of even flawed resources- especially since only samples are available before purchase? We know from experience that published curricula can save valuable time with their versatile themes, craft kits, recorded music, scope, and/or sequence of lessons. But we, the parents and leaders, must remain the primary resources when it comes to the spiritual development of our kids. In other words, published resources can still serve us well, if don’t ask them to do our job. 
 
As always, we’ll work hard to make sure Bible stories and God’s character are presented truthfully. And this summer, we’ll take extra care to avoid insensitivity to other cultures and races as we ROAR through Kids Night Out.
 
My goal isn’t for you to believe I always recognize careless language or cultural insensitivities. Or even to reassure you that we can always choose the best curriculum. I don’t and we can’t.
 
Our goal is to partner with parents in raising our kids to love God and others better than we do. And this work never takes a summer break.  
 
We have no hope of reaching this goal without much help. I’m grateful for the parent who cares enough about the discipleship of our kids to send me that article about ROAR. Now that’s good partnership! 
 
Partners, join me in praying for families and our KNO community this summer. May God’s wild kingdom grow for his glory. 
 
In Christ,
Karen Brown
- with the Family Ministry Team

Posted by Karen Brown

Conversations on Faithfulness

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Happy Anniversary Central! Isn’t it amazing and humbling to reflect on 175 years of God’s faithfulness to our church?

As the anniversary date approached this spring, the Family Ministries Team and I started thinking about how to include our kids in this church-wide celebration. As we brainstormed, we recognized this as a great discipleship opportunity for all of us. We started thinking about how we, as a church body, are intentionally trying to communicate Central’s long history in a way that glorifies God and proclaims Him as the lone hero of it. This God-glorified telling doesn’t come naturally to us, does it? Our tendency is to attribute God’s faithfulness to something we’ve done, or some pastor we’ve had, or in light of some resource we’ve acquired.

But when we look closer, it’s clear we have no business celebrating 175 years, do we? This church, like all other churches, is filled with and lead by sinners saved by grace alone who don’t deserve 175 days, hours, or even seconds of God’s favor.

How do we give our kids this vision? How do we help them see God’s gracious work in their own lives? How do we train the next generation to tell their stories in a way that glorifies God?

First, let's give them practice. Let’s encourage them to share the moments that make up their days really listen when they do. Let’s gently and patiently guide their testimonies so they point to God’s bigger Story. Second, let's train gratitude.  Let’s open their eyes to new mercies every morning and amazing grace every night.  Let’s acknowledge life’s hardships, but frame them with thankfulness and God’s provision.

All year long, we’d like to give our kids an opportunity to practice sharing their personal stories with humility and gratitude. Sunday school leaders nominated students in their class who might be up for this challenge and we’ve chosen some of these for recording.  We’ll share these recordings throughout this anniversary year.

But this is only the beginning, isn’t it?

For our kids to be better God-tellers than we are, we must be willing to walk with them in this learning. In our own narratives, may we let them close enough to see our clumsy erasing of our own goodness while adding shadows of God’s greatness.  May every child get a safe, front row seat to true repentance, thankfulness, and humility.  And may our kids hear so many of our stories that they learn that God’s faithfulness is expressed in unlimited and unique ways.

Episode 6: Sarah's Story

Episode 5: Sam #2's Story

Episode 4: Lizzie's Story

Episode 3: Sam's Story

Episode 2: Jackson's Story

Episode 1: Noelle's Story

Posted by Karen Brown

Harvest Family Spotlight - Tamang Family

Dhan and Chandra Tamang (and Suk, Dhan’s mother) were born in the country of Bhutan.   Located north of Myanmar and Bangladesh, on the eastern edge of the Himalayan mountains, Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom and is governed as a Buddhist theocracy. 

In 1988, Bhutan launched a national policy demanding that everyone adhere completely to Buddhist traditions, mandating that all citizens of Bhutan become one in language, dress and faith.  Violent protests and ethnic antagonism broke out, and thousands of Bhutan’s Nepalese residents fled to Nepal.  Among those fleeing were Dhan, Chandra, and Suk, who for the next 18 years, found themselves permanently entrenched in a refugee camp.  Conditions in the refugee camp were hardly even basic, and often inadequate.  They lived in bamboo shacks and used outdoor latrines; malnutrition and disease were overwhelming issues in the camps; food was provided by UNHCR.  It was in the refugee camp that Dhan and Chandra Tamang were married and had their first son, Dinesh. 

In 2007, the Tamangs applied for refugee status in the US. They were processed through the International Organization for Migration and landed in St Louis in June 2009.  They knew minimal English when they arrived and Dhan was provided a job, but he soon realized that language was a major obstacle to providing for his family.  Through the International Institute of St Louis, Dhan received some ESL (English as a Second Language) training while they lived in an apartment close to the Institute.  It was challenging to have ESL training and work at the same time. They had to pay back their travel expenses and begin paying for their rent and utilities within 6 months of arrival.

Some time soon after, Central hosted a Thanksgiving worship service and meal to which many Nepali refugees were invited, with transportation provided from New City Fellowship South by Dwight McKinney and Central members.  It was at that Thanksgiving worship and meal that many refugee families were met and contacts were made for future gardening.  The Tamangs were one of those families. 

The Tamangs say that Christians welcomed them immediately by providing basic necessities and visiting their family in their home, even when they had nothing.  Volunteers with the Harvest ministry visited weekly and spent hours gardening together, continued with tea in the winter months, and shared food, as well as a Genesis Bible study about Adam and Eve in the garden.  Sara, Marjorie, Liz, and Deb became part of the family, celebrating births, birthdays, 4th of Julys, and more.  Dhan states, “we became a family”.

Since then, their children have come consistently to Backyard Bible club and Kid’s Night out. They know the Gospel message and can recite it, although at present continue to be Hindu. Gratefully, seeds have been planted and God’s word does not come back to Him void. 

Dhan and Chandra Tamang live in Affton, with their 3 boys, Dinesh, Deepesh and Diwas, and mother Suk.

If you would like to learn more about Harvest and hear how you can get involved in this local outreach ministry, please join us on Saturday, May 4, from 10am-12pm for a special meeting/training event.

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