If you ask me who, in my adult life, was my biggest role model, I will struggle to boil it down to one person. But I can boil it down to two in a heartbeat: Tania and Werner Schultz.
You won’t know them, but I will always remember this couple fondly. They showed me how to have a purpose, a mission. I discovered, with their help, that I have a gift for teaching and caring about children.
Tania and Werner were missionaries in inner city Pretoria (a South African city, in case my reader do not know). They organized Bible Clubs, based on CEF Good News Clubs. They motivated one of my team mates (he stayed there while I moved on) to start a hobby project to introduce boys in the bad neighbourhood to positive male role models, and to teach them to find their identity in building, not breaking. They started preschools and after-school day care centres. (Schools in South Africa have classes only until about 12h00 or 14h00, depending on the age group; while a working parent tend to work to about 17h00 or even later.) The goal was to give high quality care options to parents who are mostly rather poor. They even raised money to help poor parents afford day care for their children. They spent so much time listening to children and caring about them that on several occasions, the people from PEN (Pretoria Evangelisation and Nurture) was able to intervene in situations of child molestation, and even raise money to get psychological help for molested children.
Tania also taught the CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) TCE (Teaching Children Effectively) course. Their ministry had a lot of CEF material for use at the weekly Bible Clubs.
I hear CEF is criticized wildly these days for allegedly not having the welfare of children at heart, for allegedly teaching “a dark message of shame and fear indoctrination“, for being full of “authoritarian themes“, for telling children they “deserve to … go to hell“, for the absence of “salutary themes such as the Golden Rule“, for promoting “a negative self image“, etc. (The quoted words in this paragraph comes verbatim from the writings of such critics.)
If you take the word of the critics …ahem …uncritically, you will believe Good News Clubs are downright evil and bad for the welfare of children. But nobody I met ever cared more about the welfare of children than Tania and Werner Schultz, and they were trained at CEF and used Good News Club material among others.
However, when I read the Good News Club critics, I could not judge their words on the merits of Mrs. and Mr. Schultz. The complaints had to be taken on its own merit. As someone who used CEF material since 1994 and taught Good News Clubs for about 5 years in the first decade of this century, I have the knowledge to investigate the truth of the claims. I even still have some CEF lesson material.
The rest of this series of posts are based on what I concluded from looking at both the critics of Good News Clubs on one side, and my actual experiences and the lesson material on the other side. Stay tuned for an approach that looked at both sides, and finds something to defend in both CEF and their detractors. Expect my first post no earlier than Saturday.