March 11, 2024

Guyana Sunday School and Youth Group Initiative

By Bre. Mark Carr & Rafeek Soolaman

The Truth in Guyana South America has a long rich history, reaching back as far the earliest days of the birth of our community in the late 1800’s.  There has been a continual ecclesial presence in Guyana since that time. Today, there are 5 active ecclesias 3 are located in the capital of Georgetown, and 2 are approximately 2 hours outside of Georgetown in the region of Berbice.  One of those ecclesias in Berbice is the Kilcoy Ecclesia, and some very exciting growth has been seen lately in this tiny lampstand.

Kilcoy’s own personal history mirrors the ebbs and flows of the growth of the Truth in Guyana itself.  In the 70’s and 80’s, Kilcoy was a thriving ecclesia with many brethren and sisters actively proclaiming the gospel to the community around them.  However, over time economic pressures to find work, a rise in violence and crime coupled with large-scale immigration of entire families to North America, reduced the membership of Kilcoy to only a handful of members. While witnessing and special lectures continued, the hands to do the work were reduced, and the responses to our proclamation work were less and less.

In 2023, an exciting new initiative was undertaken to create a community Sunday School and Youth Group based in the Kilcoy ecclesial hall.  While adults might not often actively respond to the message of the gospel, our experience at holding annual Vacation Bible schools for children in the community have been very successful and well attended.  At Kilcoy, their current Sunday School was supported by only 2-3 young people, children of members of that ecclesia, with very sporadic CYC Youth Group activities. A combined effort between the brethren and sisters of Kilcoy, and the support of a small but very dedicated group of brethren and sisters in North America, was undertaken, and the results are stunning.  To give perspective on the size of the Kilcoy ecclesia, there are effectively 3 active brethren (2 of which are speaking brethren) and 5-6 sisters (3 of which are Sunday School teachers) running these activities each week.  The Sunday School has grown to as many as 32 children on a Sunday morning, and the CYC Youth Activities has had as many as 14 young adults and teenagers on a Saturday afternoon.  All but 2 of those Sunday School children are community children coming from non-Christadelphian homes.   Each Sunday, the numbers are around 22-23 faithful attendees of all ages, forming 3 very full classes of children using every resource Kilcoy has, to teach these young people.  While any dip in numbers from our peek is completely fine and not unexpected, we have a very good idea of why some children do not or cannot come.

Our Youth Circle activities again have 2 Christadelphian children, but the rest of the group that attends are also from outside our community.  Bro John and Sis Dinah Pillion of the Seattle ecclesia have taken in hand to have weekly CYC Zoom classes, having Bible studies geared for Young People to teach them of the Gospel of Christ.   They have formed an incredible bond with these young adults and in 2023, were able to get down to Kilcoy in person and take them on some fun excursions just like our own CYC’s would do.  We’ve been told that the attendance is very consistent and the mature questions that are coming from these young people about the Bible is very encouraging.

CBMC, while supporting the efforts through funding for Sunday School books and supplies, has worked in consultation with the brethren there to explore further how we can assist.  Many of the children who attend are community children, most of which come from extremely poor and challenged circumstances.  While these are local children, many are very young and live anywhere from 1-3 miles from the ecclesial hall.  The parents are not against the children attending, but they will often not make the effort to ensure they get transportation to the Hall on a Sunday morning.  Some very young children who would love to come, must walk to get to us on their own.  Compounding this problem, is the reality that no members of Kilcoy, up until this December, had a personal vehicle of their own to transport the children even if they wanted to help – all these factors have played into a small decline in attendance. After some thoughtful planning, an appeal to CBMC, was made to allocate some funds to purchase a second-hand minibus to be used by the ecclesia, to ensure any children that wish to attend, can attend.  Bro Rafeek Soolaman and I, Co-Links for Guyana, travelled to Berbice together in January, with a commitment of funds in hand to research governmental tax and legal barriers to purchasing a bus, and if possible secure a quality second-hand bus for the members of the Berbice ecclesias.  Finally, we were able to purchase a quality vehicle at a very reasonable cost to CBMC!  Not only will the bus be used for Sunday School and CYC activities on weekends, but it will serve to strengthen the ties between the second Berbice Ecclesia in New Amsterdam, fostering joint ecclesial memorial services, Sunday School, and many other activities.

We have not seen this level of activity and excitement in Kilcoy in a great many years and it’s an absolute delight to see.  Sometimes, it has been difficult to remain positive through the lack of response by the adult community to our preaching efforts. It has been the young teachable minds of children that has breathed life into all our work.  The brethren and sisters are building the Kilcoy ecclesia of tomorrow, teaching our children the right ways of God from the outset, and if God wills and continues to bless our effort, perhaps they will grow up to join us as brethren and sisters in our walk to God’s kingdom. We ask you keep these brethren and sisters work in your prayers, and where possible continue to support through the CBM America & CBM Canada the important work of supporting the growth of the gospel in these mission-field areas.

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