Guyana Bible School
This year the Kilcoy Berbice Ecclesia hosted the 51st Guyana Bible School, the first in-person bible school in Guyana since the pandemic. Attendees came from the six ecclesias in Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Canada, the US, and as far away as Australia. The theme of the Bible School was “As children of light, let not the day of the Lord overtake you as a thief,” and the speakers were Bro. Rafeek Soolaman (B.C., Canada) and Bro. John Pillion (Washington, USA). Bro. Bill Hlina from British Columbia Canada also accompanied us to Guyana.
The Kilcoy Ecclesia is a small ecclesia, with only two brothers and a handful of sisters. Still, it had the monumental task of planning the school, finding accommodations, and cooking for close to 100 attendees as well as 30+ children who were invited from the village to participate in the Sunday school program. From early morning breakfasts to dinner time, the sisters worked tirelessly in the background, cooking over an open flame in massive pots to provide for the physical nourishment of everyone. The bible school’s schedule was well-packed. As customary for Guyana Bible schools, a lively question-and-answer period followed each class session, where the speakers were in the hot seat to answer questions from the floor on all manner of topics. It was also the first opportunity since the pandemic for many of the members to join their voices together in singing the hymns to live accompaniment (rather than pre-recorded tracks) thanks to Sister Alina, who lent her talents as a violinist to accompany the piano.
The Sunday School program in Kilcoy is a testament that even though the laborers are few the harvest is plentiful. Preaching to the community through providing an open Sunday School, and encouraging the children from the community to attend has always been an effective preaching tool in this area. My grandmother (Sis. Gladys Hart) and her brother were the first baptized contacts in the Kilcoy area, thanks to the work of Bro. Rob Abel in the 1960’s. This brother and sister team set about building a new ecclesia in Kilcoy, inviting everyone in the village to come to Sis. Gladys Hart’s house to hear about the Gospel. They were most effective with the young people, who continued to attend until they eventually were baptized and became the brethren and sisters who made up the Kilcoy ecclesia.
Kilcoy was once the largest and most active ecclesia in Guyana, with nearly 100 Sunday school Children – many of whom are now brothers and sisters living in various parts of the world. However, over the last few decades, a massive exodus of brothers and sisters from Guyana has left the ecclesia with its few members today. Still, the work continues today to spread God’s message of salvation to the children in the area.
The dozens of children invited to the Bible School this year did not come from Christadelphian parents but rather from a variety of religious backgrounds and levels of poverty, and some of them without access to a full education. The children were so eager for classes each day that many arrived an hour early. As Sunday School teachers, we needed to be ready with extra games and activities, but they continued to be eager for more. Remarkably they would sit patiently, wide-eyed, and keen to learn with us under the sweltering heat of the canopy for 3-4 hours at a time. They enjoyed engaging in singing, crafts, and lessons. Sis. Sharon and Sis. Carmel Glumac from the US helped with the teaching and activities.
Starting in 2022, Bro. John and I have been working closely with a group of young people that make up the Kilcoy CYC, giving weekly classes over Zoom, while they attend in person at the Hall. We have about ten committed and consistent attendees, ages 13-22 years old. The work and zeal of our Kilcoy brethren brought these contacts into their hall, and they continue to encourage and support this group of young people. As with the kids that attended the Sunday School classes at the bible school, most of these young people do not come from Christadelphian backgrounds but instead have a variety of religious backgrounds and literacy levels. This once shy group now asks challenging and thought-provoking questions as we hit on first principle topics. What is supposed to be a one-hour class usually runs for about two hours each week. We have grown together through bible studies, playing games, and learning music together. We have forged a strong relationship with each of the young people, and it was extraordinary to meet them in person for the first time and spend several days getting to know each other better. We hope and pray they will begin considering the commitment to Christ through baptism.
While visiting Guyana, we had the opportunity to hold a CYC in the New Amsterdam area, which was the first CYC since the pandemic and was attended by some of the young people in that area, and we look forward to continuing to engage with this new group in learning about God’s word.
Please pray that God will prosper the work in this area and grant the increase. The Guyanese brethren have a special place in our hearts, and we remain committed to continuing the Lord’s work with the youth in this area. The ongoing work in the Kilcoy area filled us with hope and was reminiscent of the zeal and efforts of a time bygone when the ecclesia was first established. Many left the bible school with their spirits revived and energized for the work of the Truth.