By Jeni Miller
Churches and groups of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) are invited to use, at no cost, a five-day downloadable English Bible camp curriculum titled “To: You, From: God.” The curriculum uses stories from the Book of Acts to teach about God’s gifts.
Developed by the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM), the curriculum was designed for short-term overseas mission teams to share the Gospel with children for whom English is not the first language. It includes a five-day schedule, opening and closing devotions, English teaching materials, Bible study materials, music selections, games, crafts, student pages, take-home materials and teaching tips.
“The LCMS has been doing English Bible camps in cooperation with the Polish Lutheran Church — The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland — for 11 years now,” explained Director of Christian Education Anne Gonzalez, manager of Short-term Mission Training & Engagement for the LCMS.
“Some years, teams developed their own curriculum, and other years we adapted Vacation Bible School curriculum to serve in an English Bible Camp setting. Neither was a great fit,” Gonzalez said.
“We looked around but couldn’t find any ESL [English as a Second Language] Bible camp materials from a Lutheran perspective, so we decided to write our own. It was a long undertaking, but well worth it.”
According to Erin Alter, director of the Short-Term Mission program for OIM, the project was successful because it pulled together the expertise of several different people, including DCEs, ESL teachers, Bible camp alumni and musicians. The curriculum also went through the LCMS doctrinal review process to ensure that the material was theologically sound.
The curriculum eased the burden for the missionaries, who, in previous years, had to prepare their own materials.
“This was my third year working with teams who were preparing to serve in Poland,” said Gonzalez. “By far, this year was the easiest, with the fewest number of questions about how and what to teach. I credit the curriculum for this, as it provided resources for how to teach and lead every part” of the camp.
Michael Olin, a new short-term volunteer from Hampton, Va., who served two English Bible summer camps in Poland in 2019, found that the curriculum helped “spur creativity because [of] the freedom to use the whole curriculum or just parts of it. For us as first-timers, it was really beneficial to give us a starting point and … an idea of what we were going to do.”
The students, said Olin, also loved the curriculum. It had “enough repetition” to support learning, but it also had stories that kept their interest. “They had a great time,” Olin said.
Following the positive reception of the curriculum in overseas Bible camps, the OIM has now made it available as a free download for churches and groups who desire to serve newly arrived refugees and immigrants or who teach other camps overseas.
“While every context is different, and the curriculum may require some adaptation,” said Gonzalez, “we can see it being a blessing both to churches and ministries in the U.S. doing ESL-based outreach, and to those who are serving overseas doing similar camps.”
Another curriculum currently in development for 2020 will focus on the “I AM” statements of Jesus.
Download the 2019 curriculum and learn more at lcms.org/english-bible-camps.
Deaconess Jeni Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer and member of Lutheran Church of the Ascension in Atlanta.
Posted Oct. 17, 2019