By: Lisa Biegert with Sandy Barber
“It’s amazing how fruitful our lives can be if we allow God to grow the fruit on other people’s trees!” exclaims BCM missionary Sandy Barber.
Nearly twenty-five years ago, Bob and Sandy Barber were introduced to a Romanian ministry, New Hope. New Hope produces and distributes children’s material for churches across Romania. New Hope translated BCM’s Sunday School curriculum Footsteps of Faith into Romanian (see BCM World, June 2014). But their ultimate goal was to see the Romanian people empowered to multiply their own ministry to children. So when the Barbers introduced BCM’s children’s ministry training curriculum In Step with the Master Teacher (ISMT), New Hope immediately offered to translate and publish it.
New Hope distributed ISMT along with Footsteps of Faith to Romanian Christian book shops. They also presented it at Christian publishing events, seminaries, teacher training colleges, gatherings of pastors, church leadership teams, denominational gatherings, and individual churches. But just making ISMT material available wasn’t enough, so a program of week-long teacher training camps and conferences was born. Attendees were carefully chosen from key leadership across Romania with the goal of equipping them to return home and teach the other teachers in their churches and communities.
Sandy Barber expounds, “We were encouraged to see the careful thought that went into who the Romanian Christians invited to attend training events; it was never numbers just for the sake of numbers. We recall that one of the conferences we held in Romania had very highly-motivated participants representing four different geographical locations across the country and three different mission organizations.”
One New Hope publishing partner, Tavi, explains: “In children’s ministry there is always a need for training since there is a constant flow of new teachers. So this is a strategic ministry and one that will have great impact in the years to come.”
ISMT’s impact and concept of multiplication began in Romania as a spark among just a few pastors and organizations. Twenty years later, that spark has caught full flame and not just among Romanians. One Romanian church shared the training with their entire congregation, a conglomeration of people representing 25-30 nationalities. A two-day training conference in Bucharest had representatives from Sudan, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Chad, Nigeria, Uganda, and Ghana.
Tinu, who heads up BCM’s publishing partnership with New Hope in Romania, adds: “We are constantly amazed at how this valuable resource is asked for again and again—not only by those ministering in Romania, but also by a significant number of Romanian communities across Europe. These churches are also asking for help in training Sunday school teachers for ministering to children. The In Step with the Master Teacher comprehensive teacher training curriculum is ideal for this situation.”
Within Romania, one pastor’s wife taught nine others, who in turn each took what they learned to reach children in surrounding villages. Another pastor’s wife, responsible for 200 Sunday School teachers in 120 churches whose programs reach up to 2500 children, has now made ISMT and Footsteps of Faith part of the program in each of those locations. Then there is Erika, who was challenged through ISMT to train as a teacher of Religious Education in Romania’s public school system.
The Barbers are the first to say that the outcome of New Hope’s translation and publication of BCM curriculum in Romania more than twenty years ago is far more than either party could have accomplished in and of themselves. It is a beautiful testimony of followers of Christ from different organizations working together in a spiritual harvest. Sandy Barber sums up: “We truly thank God for our partnership with New Hope in Romania, which has resulted in innumerable children’s workers being trained and equipped for ministry. How blessed and fruitful that partnership continues to be!”
Originally Published in BCM World April 2018