Equipping Grandmas for Ministry

My name is Leslie Lewis. I’m the U.S. coordinator for Sub-Saharan Africa Family Enrichment (SAFE), a faith-based organization that uses the Bible to teach safe sexual choices and other life skills to young children in Malawi.

I became familiar with Global Recordings Network (GRN), in the beginning, because my husband Paul’s grandparents had gotten to know GRN founder Joy Ridderhof, and they loved her ministry. When Paul’s grandparents retired, they actually sold their farm in Indiana and moved to Los Angeles to work with and volunteer at GRN.

Thanks to that background, I was aware of GRN’s material when I started working on one of SAFE’s key projects, Gogo Grandmothers. Named after an African word for “grandmother,” Gogo links people from developed countries to grandparents caring for orphans in Malawi. Through this connection, Gogo supports a largely forgotten group and addresses one of the outcomes of the HIV/AIDS pandemic within a faith-based context.

God’s Most Useful Plan

With Gogo, we were working in many villages, all of which have no electricity and many of which are hard to access. I had thought about GRN and its products, such as its Sabers (digital audio players) and “Look, Listen and Live” (gospel audio recordings and booklets), and how effective they could be in these contexts. So I made a plan.

About that same time GRN had a partner group that made Christian songs to teach Scripture. I thought, let’s put some of those songs on the Sabers! They could pair up with some Bible banners that we had made to teach the Word of God to children at our community-based childcare centers.

So we matched some of the songs on the Sabers to those banners, working both in English and in the local language, Chichewa. And then later I took over some of the Sabers and visited villages, giving them out to the locals.

After my experience in the villages, I knew it might be difficult to help the local caregivers make the best use of the Sabers. But I saw that God had a wonderful plan in mind — the caregivers began using Sabers at home, learning the songs there and then bringing them to the children at the appropriate times when they were teaching the Bible banner lesson. God had a way of using GRN’s products so intentionally and fruitfully in his own way.

Serving the Chiefs and Other Adults, Too

Another surprise I had was in Dedza, which is an area in the central region of Malawi. Michael is our community supervisor there and he is an outstanding evangelist and discipler. Not only are lots of little children there — more than 600 in a community-based child care center — but he has gathered 51 chiefs in a fellowship of discipleship. He’ll also go out and visit the local grandmother who is poor and suffering, to bring her some food and share Jesus with her.

I found out Michael had been using Sabers and the Jesus Film in different discipleship situations with the youth, the chiefs, and with anyone else that he can get into a group. This is from a report that he just recently sent me:

“This quarter we’ve established 10 Bible study groups as pilot groups to let people share, discuss, and ask questions on issues they don’t know, to let God change their ideas and help them reach their spiritual maturity, and to let the Holy Spirit develop their self-control. We plan to train 50 leaders who can then lead other groups.”

I know that Michael is also planning to use GRN’s “Look, Listen, and Live” materials with some of these groups that he is starting.

More Materials on the Way

These are some of the amazing ways we use partners like GRN to spread the Good News to people in Malawi. Thanks in part to GRN, we’re able to serve in situations where there’s no electricity and few opportunities to pass on the Word of God from generation to generation.

GRN gives us a way to hold the truth of Scripture and pass on the Word of God in really effective ways. We’re just so appreciative. I see how the Sabers have been used in a unique way that we never imagined that they’re being used, and actually, we’re being asked to supply more GRN materials because they’ve proven so useful.

We’re excited that new teaching materials from GRN are on their way to Gogo Grandmothers this fall. It’s just a joy to see that in each partnership God gives us, he is so faithful to bring fruit. ■

Watch and listen as the story of Jesus is told in a group setting using a Global Recordings flip-chart as a visual reference to the spoken words.