By Karen Natalia Cruz
Communications Partner with Grain of Wheat
Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 (NASB)
I do not know if you usually are surrounded by kids, but if you are a Sunday school teacher at church, volunteer in Grain of Wheat, school teacher, or simply there are kids in your family, the sentence “let’s play games” will be common to you. Even more when they themselves are the ones who invite you to play in order to share time with you or with their friends. However, it is a fact that we underrate this activity as a mean for their learning and we look with scepticism to teach biblical truth through games.
Several pedagogical specialists and child psychologists agree that “playing games” is a childhood characteristic and proper of their earlier stage. Indeed, it is very important in their development at emotional, social, cognitive level, and all fields you want to add (we also incorporate the spiritual aspect here) ought to “playing games” is the way that they begin to know the environment spontaneously; likewise it is a manifestation of their context and culture.
“Play games” in different areas.
Although people usually use the “game time” with the idea of distracting the kid while doing other activities, it is very important for you to know the reasons why playing is an excellent tool that helps kids to identify their environment, share with others and, in this case, learn and apply biblical principles at an early age.
For instance, speaking of an educational level (or cognitive development) the child begins to find solutions to a problem through his own knowledge or lessons that they have acquired through games. This fact will also train their creativity, imagination, attention, memory and others abilities to evaluate and resolve future situations. Imagine what would happen if a kid learn a biblical principle like honouring their non-believing parents ¡And as a result the whole family could be reached!
Talking about physical development (or psychomotor develop) children obtain motor skills which allow them to coordinate and control their movements and intentions, releasing all their energy and increasing their confidence. ¡we don’t know when the kid with surplus energy can also carry the Word of God to other, with enthusiasm and vigour, in the future!
At the emotional level, “playing games” help them to deal with emotions that not often are possible expressed by words. They can use their imagination to identify themselves in different roles, and even help them in learning methods to resolve conflicts. Therefore, pay attention to the thing they draw, paint or act, because it could be reflection of their feeling or situation that they are experiencing at home.
Finally, in social field, games provides the space where they communicate with others, generate bonds of trust, cooperation and sharing, as well as they learn concepts like “rules”, “win” and “lose”. This is one of the places where they obtain information, attitudes and thoughts which will form their character. The activities that invite them to help, treat their peers nicely and to know how to listen others will be uplifting for their lives.
Our experience in San José del Guaviare with KidGames
Although most of the Jiw (native tribe in the south eastern region of Colombia) do not speak or understand completely Spanish, we thank God for the life of missionaries who are serving there day by day. They have dedicated much of their time in learn Jiw language and they were the ones helped us to translate the instructions of the games and some teachings to the Jiw language. Besides, we also thank for the life of some Jiw Leaders that translated our ideas, it was God who used them in that moment in a special form.
Initially, we believed that developing these games could be difficult because of language but we saw that the love of God is so mighty that transcends these aspects. His love gave us a very special and emotive day. We look the happiness in each kid and teenager while they were jumping, running, even trying to make a handcraft or receiving a gift.
We know this approach by Grain of Wheat with KidGames in San José del Guaviare was only possible by the grace of God, and His desire of achieve kids from natives communities of Colombia. Actually, the life conditions of them are complex because lack of food, shortage of drinking water, health problems and illiteracy in their own language. Nevertheless, we thank The Lord for allowing us to love others and put in our hearts the desire to come back there. We want to have more rapprochement with this community and be a support for the local church that works with the Jiw.
Please, join us praying for God’s work there with the Jiw natives, for the missionaries that are living with them and for the approaches that we want to have as Grain of Wheat. If you want to look more pictures, go into our Fan Page on Facebook.