by Joan Wiebe
It was the fourth day of our curriculum workshop in Bolivia. Emotions ran high as writers gave the openings for their first lesson. How different this Sunday school curriculum was — it was Bolivian.
It was the fourth day of our curriculum workshop in Bolivia. Emotions ran high as writers gave the openings for their first lesson. How different this Sunday school curriculum was—it was Bolivian. For introductions to a lesson entitled, “Are There Two or Three Eternal Destinies?” one writer wrote a fable, another gave questions about a wake when people gathered all night at the home of the deceased.
It was already 11 p.m., but no one cared. Their curriclum had just been born.
“When I saw the lesson being taught on the first day of the workshop, I was convinced that this was what we needed in Bolivia,” said Omar Rocha, UCE (Union Cristiana Evangelica) vice-president. “Someone said that writing lessons was a snap, very easy. I’m going to set him straight. It’s hard work, yet incredibly worthwhile, and I’m committed before God to this project.”
Twenty-four Bolivian church and Christian education leaders of the Union Cristiana Evangelica met in Cochabamba for their first Sunday School Curriculum Writers Workshop, August 1-12, 1994. Among those present were the UCE president, vice-president, and directors of four of their theological institutions. They had invited Larry Brook of Cook Communications to train them in curriculum development, publishing, and marketing.
“The time has come to produce our own biblical and culturally relevant Sunday school materials,” said Sara Montero.
Since 1970 the Christian Education Committee of the UCE has evaluated curriculum in order to recommend materials to their growing churches and congregations (now 700). Though they expressed gratitude for translated curricula, these are often characterized by methods and life situations foreign to Bolivia’s context.
Struggling churches need clear doctrinal teaching related to life. New curricula are appearing, but these are either written by foreigners or from an unacceptable doctrinal position. Many are cognitive with little student involvement. Most do not lead the student beyond the traditional, and often unheeded application, to a step of personal response and change.
At the ’94 workshop, a capable executive committee was chosen to oversee the project. Sara Montero, a widely respected Christian educator, was named director. Goals and objectives were defined, and they immediately began filling their curriculum grid with Bible passages and themes. Lesson units and single lesson outlines were prepared, and after three days 11 writers joined them for step-by-step training in lesson writing.
Between the first and second workshop (June 28-July 2, 1995), regional committees worked to complete the grid and units and outlines. All personnel are volunteers, and at great sacrifice they met at a central city three times to check their work. Cook has been very pleased with their progress. A third workshop is planned for February, 1996, to encourage writers and train editors.
Funding for the training has come from the Cook Foundation, Bolivian churches, and SIM International. While the mission has had a role in the UCE Christian Education Committee and establishing contact with Cook, it is the decisive step of faith and united effort by they UCE that is making this dream a reality. The committee is now preparing a proposal to seek assistance for publishing and related expenses.
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