Sanna Erelä, Project Coordinator
Children’s ministry in Israeli congregations is generally built upon an enormous amount of volunteer work. Hundreds of Shabbat school teachers around Israel give of their time each week to educate the young generation in Hebrew and Arabic-speaking communities. At the Caspari Center, we understand the great value of teaching the next generation. One of our main focuses is to support children’s ministries in Israel by providing training for these volunteers. We asked two hard-working ladies that are involved with this project to share a bit about their life and experience.
Rima Burch is an Israeli-Arab believer who was born in Nazareth, Israel. She is married to an American and has four children. Rima attends the Messianic Beit Eliahu congregation in Haifa. Rima recalls how it all began:
“I remember myself as a child attending a Good News Club at our neighbor’s house. I can still recall Bible stories and a few songs from that time.” All this had a huge impact on Rima’s life while she was growing up.
“After finishing high school, the leader of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) invited me to become a camp counselor at a children’s camp held in Arabic. I was in charge of a room with six girls. It was a week-long camp and I realized that I enjoyed working with kids. I especially enjoyed teaching them. I remember one day all the girls decided to wear the same thing I was wearing. I understood that one of the ways children learn is by watching me as an example. What I do also matters, not just what I say.”
During her college years, Rima volunteered at the CEF office:
“I wrote song verses on cardboard signs and helped to teach in Good News Bible Clubs in different places in Israel. I enjoyed teaching and also felt called to work with children. I wanted to become a staff member in CEF (Nazareth). I finished some training for children’s ministry in Cyprus but the Lord had a different plan for me: I met my husband and we moved to the States. There we did full time mission work.”
Now Rima’s family lives in Israel, and Rima teaches both in Shabbat School and an Arabic Bible Club. She also helped to manage kids’ camps for several years in Israel.
Working with children is not always easy. Rima has learnt many things through her experience:
“The most challenging thing is when a child misbehaves. However, I don’t want to miss any opportunity to minister to the child and to understand the reason behind his/her behavior. I need to take time and focus on listening, not just asking the kid to obey.”
Rima has participated in the Caspari Center Shabbat School Seminars and recently took part in the online course. She shares:
“I’m always ready to learn new things and become a better teacher. I’m glad that I was able to join the online course. There is a big change in the way I plan the lesson; I have learned to do it better. I utilize a variety of activities during one session. I plan the activities so that they are appropriate for that age group. I encourage the kids with my words more than before. This course is a ‘must’ for all who work with children!”
Caspari Center created an online course for Shabbat School teachers in cooperation with another Israeli ministry, Medallion. Debby Nalbandian, Director of Medallion, has 30 years’ experience on this field. Debby was born and raised in Israel and holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She worked in a school for a few years until having children, and since then began writing curriculum for Shabbat School and continued her career in publishing.
“I’ve always loved children,” Debby says. “I have had such a burden to see them commit their lives to Jesus and begin a lifelong walk with Him.”
Debby develops resources for congregations and families to help children learn more about the Bible and Jesus. She also trains teachers in congregations around Israel. Since the 1990s, Medallion has partnered with the Caspari Center in planning seminars for volunteers in children’s ministry.
“During the last three years we have worked even more intensively together on an online teachers’ training course,” Debby shares. “We collected university-trained teachers from around the country and asked them to teach on several key topics.”
Themes covered in the online courses include: child development, discipline, communication, God’s Word, spiritual development, special needs children in the classroom, how to develop a lesson and how to use visual aids in the class.
“It was a very interesting and grueling process including writing, editing, filming, creating graphics, and editing videos. But it was worth every bit! I got to know new people both personally and professionally, and enjoyed interacting with our students as they worked through the practical side of their teaching,” Debby describes.
The key element of the course was to encourage students to put the theory into practice. Debby explains:
“One of our students struggled with understanding child development. She was learning the theory, but it didn’t make sense to her. So we talked it through and worked together on the application for preschool children. Little by little, she was able to grasp the concept and find ideas the children could understand, and that she could teach them. At the end of the process she sent a video of a preschool child reciting Bible verses. Yay!”
The Shabbat School ministry has the potential to make a huge influence on the next generation. What the teachers learn, will filter down into the lives of the children, and make a difference – for eternity.
Would you like to be involved in this ministry? Click here to read more about the Teacher Training Platform. Some teachers are unable to afford the course fees. You can help by providing a scholarship for a Shabbat School teacher.