“Why do you want to be a teacher?” Johann*, an Open Doors fieldworker, asks.
“The children are growing up. I want to teach them to fear God so they will not do bad things,” Leng, a young Sunday school teacher, replies. “My village is small, and there’s no one to teach the children. I want to teach them to know God!” adds La-Li.
Leng and La-Li are participants of Open Doors’ training program for Hmong Sunday school teachers in Laos. Since 2014, they’ve been working hard to produce a Sunday school manual with songs they’ve composed, games and activities that would help them share Bible stories with children in their villages.
“We are excited, but our concern is doing this right,” says Jhua, another Sunday school teacher. “We are not that confident that it will turn out nice. The Hmong have never had this before, but I believe it’s really good for Hmong children.”
“In terms of people groups, the Hmong tribe has the third highest population in Laos, comprising more than 40 percent,” explains Johann, who’s in charge of the Sunday school teachers’ training program in Laos. “They’re oral learners. Many people already have outreaches with them, but they still don’t have their own Sunday school manual. I was able to visit one Hmong church, and what they use is a material from the majority tribe, Lao. Just imagine the impact of a manual crafted by their own people!”
“Because of history, Christianity has always been defined by the Lao government as something Western,” he continues. “Since the Hmong are a highly oral culture and the manual is highly story-based, the biblical stories will prove non-threatening in approach. Who knows, maybe it will not only disciple children in the ways of God but also reduce persecution.”
In 2016, more than 25 Hmong churches received a Sunday school teaching set, and more than 40 Hmong Sunday school teachers were trained to teach children. In 2017, the teachers will start using the manuals to reach out to the kids in their communities.
“It has always been my dream that this manual will spread like wildfire and invade the homes and churches of the Hmong in Laos,” says Johann. “Children will be teaching other children about the love of Jesus using the stories and story card pictures they have, and these children will be the ones used by God to share the Word of God to the different villages untouched by the gospel. Truly, out of the mouths of children and infants, God has ordained praise! This is my dream, and it may not happen during my lifetime, but I know that my God is faithful and this is His project.”
When Johann concluded his class, he asked the Sunday school teachers for a symbol they could liken themselves to as teachers. Leng said hers is a tree: “Teachers should have leaves, flowers and all those things, but before we can stand strong, we should have deep roots so that we can teach others.”
*Names changed for security reasons
We invite you to write to the Sunday school teachers! They’re new to using the material, and though the material is something they themselves have developed, they may have bouts of insecurities and doubts as they start. Please encourage them that God will equip and protect them as they serve in their villages, and that their labor in the Lord is not in vain.