Dear Reader,

How are you doing today?

2020 has been a year for the record books. Covid-19 brings uncomfortable restrictions and uncertainty about the future. In New Zealand, where I live and minister, Covid was eradicated in June but has come back to haunt us in August. Then add protests, riots, and elections with every kind of opinion about how we should respond and what we should do. Even when you’re trusting the Lord, sometimes you just want it all to stop.

2020 has made me dig deeper in God’s Word for assurance that God is still in control. Psalms like Psalm 94:17-19. Uplifting Christian fiction is also a good break from all the noise and confusion around me.  The most interesting character I’ve read recently is Margot De Wilde in The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White. (See my book review at the end of this Book Blast.)

Do you ever tire of formulaic fiction characters? The beautiful model with the troubled past meets the strong but sensitive hunk. Immediate physical attraction (hormones) makes for love at first sight. Constant danger, several car chases, and a rescue from kidnapping assures them they are meant for each other. These elements might make a strong fiction plot, but they aren’t exactly a good way to find a godly partner for life. And these aren’t the kind of characters I write about.

Three characters from Broken Windows:

Jordan Axtell’s faith is challenged by something authors rarely talk about. His missionary parents have been faithfully serving in Taiwan, but have seen few visible results for their efforts. Why doesn’t God bless their ministry?

My husband and I spent sixteen years serving in Taiwan, and at the end of that time we had to close two ministries that weren’t going to go ahead. I know what that feels like. We believe we were in God’s will in Taiwan and God did use us, but we had hoped to see more visible results. We had to leave that in God’s hands. Since then God has brought us to a new ministry in New Zealand that seems like a good fit for us. We now have many Asians in our church and we understand them better because of living in Taiwan. We know God used our Taiwan time in our lives and the lives of others. But we had to come to terms with that part of our lives like Jordan had to.

Zophie Zobel isn’t the kind of girl that many guys long to date, but she has a passion for ministry and a caring heart that drives Jordan in a good direction and causes him to grow.

More than anyone else I know, Zophie is like my oldest daughter. No wonder I love this character so much. To get the perfect look of this character in my head, I chose a photo from a magazine from our mission. Once I saw “Zophie” in a crowd. Now I find she will be working with a missionary friend of ours in Peru. Maybe one day I’ll get to meet the face that inspired this character.

Jordan’s black ’69 Mustang also becomes a character in my book. Jordan introduces her as “Mustang Axtell, the Mrs. Jordan Axtell, my beloved. She’s the only girlfriend I need right now.” If you’ve read Broken Windows you know how the car speaks to him and brings him to the point of significant spiritual change.

Since I’m definitely not a car gal, I had to rely on my brother, Jim, for the details and feel for this character.  Jim told me, “that scene in Chapter Thirteen where Bradley is riding his skateboard close to the Mustang, that’s not funny, you know.” Jim wasn’t joking. He told me how a real car guy would never allow a kid and a skateboard anywhere close to his classic car and the stern warning he would give a kid like Bradley who was anywhere in the vicinity of a classic car. Which told me this scene would resonate with a true car guy.

If you’ve read a book with interesting characters lately, why not leave us a comment and tell us about it?

I’ll end this Book Blast with my book review of the book mentioned above.

My book review of: The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White 

 This book was unlike any book I’ve ever read before. It’s definitely historical and yes, it is mystery and has romance. But the characters are what make this book a 5-star read. The author takes you deep into the mind of Margot, a girl who lives, breathes, thinks, feels and prays in numbers. She counts compulsively and is a genius with numbers. She doesn’t care about fashion and avoids shallow friendships. But the qualities that restrict her social life make her an excellent codebreaker during the Great War. She is intensely loyal to the friends she does have and pushes herself into social situations when she senses the need.

This book demonstrates friendship that looks beyond first impressions and the outer facade of a person to the heart. Unlike the author and me, the characters are Catholic. Salvation is never mentioned, but Margot relies heavily on prayer and learns to trust in God when she doesn’t understand. God speaks to her in numbers and when she doesn’t hear the numbers she doubts that God is speaking to her. I wonder about that. But the characters are unique and compelling. They grow to appreciate the differences of others and learn to work with them, flaws and all. I love that this book is outside the formulaic plots of romance and suspense and yet compelling in a way that is hard to describe. It grows on you until you don’t want to put it down. The most interesting book I’ve read in a long time.

Free Christian ebooks! Great deal for Kobo readers!

My book, Broken Windows, is featured with ten other authors in this promo. This is known as a list builder because you sign up for an author’s newsletter in exchange for that author’s free book. My newsletter, Deb’s Book Blast, only comes out about four times a year. I give away a free book by another Christian author to someone on my list with every regular post. My subscribers already get any free books I’m promoting to new readers..

July 3-6 Kobo readers can get Edges of Truth: The Mary Weaver Story for 99 cents. God worked in amazing ways in this incredible true story.

Children’s Ministry Resources You May Not Have Heard Of

Recently I asked on my Facebook author page for favorite resources of Christian ministry teachers of children. I’m excited to share these great resources I found that I never knew about. Check these out to see if they might work in your ministry.

Devotional Books

Parents in our churches need help finding books that give them easy and meaningful devotions for their families. Since my children are grown, devotional books aren’t automatically on my radar. Here are three recommendations from my readers:

Shannyn Mitchell recommends Worshipful Families by Howard Bean.

Hannah King has been using Tales from Cherry Lane in her family devotions this year. Last year they used My Big Book of 5-Minute Devotionals. Her kids have enjoyed them. They are in Kindergarten and 2nd Grade.

Church Children’s Club Resources

This is what Rebekah Schrepfer uses for her kids’ club at Pioneer Peak Baptist Church in Palmer, Alaska.

Here’s an overview of the club that I have sent around as a Starter Kit. I still have no helpers and no budget.  In the overview I explain how I’ve put together our Wednesday Bible Club and I talk about the free resources that I’ve found.    I’ve used the free lessons from this website.  It is a good walk-through-the-Bible format, and it can be easily supplemented with visual aids and such.  I skip their suggested memory verse because the kids are already learning verses with their Summit Club Books.  And I don’t always use the crafts they suggest, but sometimes they’re nice to use.  I’ve also used this website and printed off their Bible Trading Cards.

Over the years, I’ve learned to use Photoshop and Microsoft Publisher, and I’ve learned how to use WordPress.  While these resources are not always free and can be a long road to travel, it has been a blessing to draw on these skills and apply them to a children’s ministry to make it look professional….when in reality, it’s just little ol’ me.

Original Bible stories and songs and a method for organization of materials

Marilyn Alexander has put all these materials on her website. They come from her long-term ministry at Calvary Baptist Church in Lamar, Colorado.

My friend, Marilyn Alexander has recently launched a website with teaching resources. She specializes in lessons for Bible stories that are used less often. She offers free, original songs about Bible characters. Many of these are about Bible characters that you never find songs about. She also explains a way to organize all your teaching materials in a way that helps you to find all the bits and pieces instantly. You can find all this on her website, Teaching the Bible to Kids.  

Junior Church material

Ruth Grosse recommends these after using them to teach junior church at First Baptist Church, Dillon, Montana. (The oldest Baptist church in Montana.)

AiG has these Sunday School materials. Ruth uses these to teach her Junior Church. She says, “I love Answers in Genesis for Junior Church!  I use the Pre-K – First material, though I have kids who are older – it still works great – and they learn lots of good Bible principles that give them a good foundation for life.  There is a wonderful flipchart and lots of illustrations during the lesson time that keep the kids’ attention, plus game ideas, songs, hands-on activity ideas, and a handwork sheet to take home.  There are 10 lessons per unit (you order a unit at a time), and I’m on the third one.  There is one memory passage per unit – and the kids learn that passage really well – because it is illustrated in the flip chart with words and pictures, plus we review it every Sunday during that unit.  They say it up front in church at the end of the unit, along with singing a song or two.  There are also 4 Bible Truth Questions for each unit that they learn the answers to – and that is fun for them because they all answer together in unison.”

Deb Brammer: Here are some fave resources that I’ve used teaching at Tay Street Baptist Church in Invercargill, New Zealand.

Free Bible Story Pictures

My favorite source for free pictures to use to teach Bible stories is Free Bible Images found here:  . I have printed these images on card and used them. Sometimes I get a Bible story in curriculum which just doesn’t have enough pictures of the story to suit me. I can print these out the day before I use them and not have to wait or pay postage. I’ve also used them for PowerPoint stories for our Discovery Club. Though they are free, if you’re using them a lot it’s nice to send in a contribution. These have really helped me because I like to make up my own Bible themes and use stories in different ways, but I always need Bible story pictures to show what I want to say.

Training for Puppet Ministry

My favorite DVD for training puppeteers is this one  from Creative Ministry Solutions.

My own free resources

If you haven’t checked out my website recently, you’ve missed some new resources I’ve added. Under “Church Programs” You not only find Christmas Programs and Mum-Daughter Nite themes. I’ve also added these original resources.

  • The Road Sign Song. Music and printable visuals for fun new kids’ song.
  • Old Testament Books Song. Used to memorize the Old Testament books. Printed music with demonstration video.
  • Old Testament timeline motions to help kids memorize an overview of the Old Testament.
  • 7-color Jesus poem and object lesson. Printable poem made to fit in a bag with jelly beans in each color. How to make an object lesson to go with it.

Puppet resources:

Under my Puppet Scripts and Tips you’ll find 20 original puppet scripts and 5 helpful articles about puppets.

 

Summit Bible Club Overview

A Ministry of Pioneer Peak Baptist Church

Dear Fellow-laborers in the Gospel,
I hope this overview of our Summit Bible Club ministry will be helpful for you as you work on your own Wednesday night program for children.

Summit Club was born out of pure necessity and a desire not to waste the precious time given to me on Wednesday nights at our church. There was a time when our church had no class, much less a program, for children or teens on Wednesday nights. My own four children would just come to the Adult Prayer Meeting and Bible Study with us, and any other children that might come were not regular attenders. I knew my children needed a time and some goals to work toward. I had fond memories of AWANA and other Bible Clubs, and really any verses I know by memory mainly come from those years of hiding God’s Word in my heart. So with the pastor’s blessing I began a simple class-time on Wednesday nights. I had no budget and no helpers. It was just me and what resources I could find for free. It grew into Summit Bible Club simply by adding a little here and a little there to help the kids be motivated and enjoy the class. Now I have up to 25 children each week, and I’ve long passed the point of needing a little extra help and budget.

But we continue forward and I believe it has been a good endeavor.
Here is what our typical Summit Bible Club evening looks like:

1. Opening Song Time (5-10 mins)
a. In the summer, while it’s still light outside and good weather, we sometimes begin with game time. In the winter when it’s too dark or cold, we just start with songs.
b. We sing at least 4 children’s songs. Most are simple songs that we all learned as children. There really was no other extended time of children’s music on Sundays, so this was our chance!
c. We also work on special music as a group. Call it Kids’ Choir if you like. But I strive to find a really nice song that works for a Sunday morning special or for the Christmas Program or Easter Program. This is a time when I have the most church kids there with me at one time, so I take advantage of it!

2. Prayer Time (5-10 mins)
a. A little ministry philosophy here: Pastor has taught that children are really church members in training. It is wrong to make a class completely different from what normal church life is. Then there’s nothing at all that resembles what church life is for the rest of their lives as adults. And a huge part of that is focused prayer time.
b. I ask for prayer requests and they must follow some simple rules:
i. It’s not story time, so requests need to be that. What can we ask God to help with?
ii. If someone already mentioned a prayer requests, we can’t repeat it. (This is just a time saver.)
iii. Praise God in our prayers, too! What are you thankful for? How has God answered our prayers from last week? What part about God do you remember and can praise Him for? (Sometimes our whole prayer time is just this, without any prayer requests.)
iv. Pay attention and remember the requests, because you might be asked to pray aloud.
c. Then I ask for 2 volunteers to pray aloud. I am the last one to pray.

3. Walk Through The Bible (10-15 mins)
a. It took us several weeks to learn the Books of the Bible Song (https://vimeo.com/149679206) sung to the tune of “Ten Little Indians”. We begin with that now, so the youngest kids can learn it.
b. I have taught them basic statements about how the Bible is put together. There are many ways to do this, so you’ll have to come up with what works best for you.
c. I have a list of facts and questions I use in a separate document, but mostly it is based on my own Bible Study over my lifetime. I just thought about all of the basics of what is in the Bible, the accounts, the major themes, etc. And I simplified it for children to remember.

4. Sword Drills (5 mins)
a. This fun game has been great to teach the kids how to look up verses in their own Bibles by themselves.
b. At first the kids were nervous and complained that they couldn’t do it. But after practice with some super easy references, they got better at it. They know that Psalms is the middle of the Bible and that the Old Testament is bigger than the New Testament, and those sign-posts help them find other references. At this elementary age, I stick with pretty easy verses and throw in a curve ball for the older kids for a challenge from time to time.
c. Encourage the kids to bring their own Bibles every week.

5. Summit Verses Time (10-15 mins)
a. Next we take time to recite and work on their Summit Club verses from their books. The books can be made with a comb binder, or they are thin enough to just staple the middles into a booklet.
b. I encourage the older kids to come prepared to say their verses without help from mom or dad since they can read and do it themselves. The younger kids can use help with the how-to’s of memorizing verses. Hopefully parents have worked with their kids and they are prepared.
c. (At our house, at about 4:30 on Wednesdays, I have the kids turn off the TV and tablets. I work with the younger kids to memorize their verses by rote while I’m making dinner. The older kids go to their rooms to learn their verses and then they come practice on me. By the time dinner is ready, they know their verses.)
d. This is the time when extra help is needed. If kids are ready with their verses, they line up in the hallway to say their verses to the Nursery Worker, who signs their books. Then they show me their book and I write it down in my Record Book. Several kids usually do not come prepared to say verses, and it would be great to have someone ready to help them just for those few minutes of class time. (But then again, they are learning really well to be prepared ahead of time.)
e. If they finish a “trail”, then their Hiker dude gets to move up the mountain. We all clap for each other as someone gets to move their guy up. As they finish books, they get bigger prizes.

6. Lesson Time (10 mins.)
a. With the class time getting short, the lesson time has been a good time, and yet it has not been the main thrust of Summit Club. Hence, only 10 minutes allotted. Remember, my main goal has been to give them the bones of Bible Knowledge.
b. I’ve used the free lessons from this website: http://freesundayschoolcurriculum.weebly.com/oldtestament- lessons.html It is a good walk-through-the-Bible format, and it can be easily supplemented with visual aids and such. I skip their suggested memory verse because the kids are already learning verses with their Summit Club Books. And I don’t always use the crafts they suggest, but sometimes they’re nice to use. I’ve also used this website: https://sundayschoolsources.com/ottoc.htm and printed off their Bible Trading cards.

7. Game / Craft Time (10 mins)
a. Sometimes we run out of time for this, but I try to include it. It’s also motivation for the kids to stay with my lead through the evening. “Let’s follow the teacher so we have time to do games later!”
b. We do crafts that pertain to the lesson during the winter months when we can’t go outside. c. This is another area where a helper would be great. Just to be able to hand off the kids to the games or crafts coordinator would be awesome for me.
d. If we all seem to be run down and tired, I’ll sometimes just send the kids outside with their snacks to the playground.

8. Snacks
a. The moms get together and coordinate sending snacks for the Summit Club kids. It’s not a big deal, but it helps me tremendously not to have to think about that.
b. Sometimes we do snacks at the same time as craft time, but mostly we just grab our snacks at the very end of class.
c. On Easter week, I will make Resurrection Rolls. And sometimes there are fun theme ideas that I incorporate into the snack time.

9. Special Dress-Up Nights
a. I added this to help encourage kids to attend and not miss out. It’s minimal preparation for me and parents, and it’s lots of fun for the kids.
b. Once a month we do a fun theme like Crazy Hair night, or Neon night, or Twin Day. I plan to use those themes in the lesson time. So Super Hero Night will be a lesson on how God is our Almighty and Amazing, Incredible God. Neon Night will be an emphasis on how we can be a shining light in a dark world. Twin Day can be about imitating Christ, etc.

10. Gospel Presentations
a. Because many of the kids are young, about half of them have never accepted Christ as their Savior. Especially the preschoolers and kindergartners are still putting the pieces of the puzzle together in their minds.
b. Because of that I share the plan of salvation OFTEN. Whenever it comes up, whether it’s the song time, the game time, the verses they memorize or the lesson time…I add the Gospel in there.
c. I’ve had good talks with parents over the last few years. They tell me what their kids know from Summit Club and often they tell their parents, not me, about their understanding of the gospel. Praise the Lord!

11. Awards Night
a. At the end of the school year, we have an Awards Night on a Sunday night. Kids who have finished their books get a medal that I make for them. All kids get a goodie bag.
b. I try to have the kids recite some of their verses that they learned, and maybe sing one of the new songs I’ve taught them, a slide show of some pictures I’ve taken along the way is fun too.
c. This is a great way to recognize their hard work, and it is a testimony to the church, a report on their ministry.
d. This is also a good “advertising time” to those who have not been to Summit Club, that they are missing out on something good.

12. Summit Club Fair
a. A new thing this year, since we are not doing VBS at this time, is to have a day of games and prizes for the kids.
b. We have it at the end of summer, just before Summit Club starts as a kick-off day.
c. It’s a big deal, and I usually need help. The games are very simple and each one needs an adult to run the game, so preparation and communication ahead of time is needed.

This Summit Club Program has been a blessing, I believe, from the Lord. He has given me a heart for it even though it is hard work and sometimes exhausting. But I love to see the kids learning and able to navigate their Bibles and remember His Words to them. We’ve seen little ones come to know the Lord as their Savior, and we’ve seen  friendships among them grow and visitors invited as well. Praise God!

I hope this overview helps you understand the other materials I’ve included in this Start-Up Packet. Please contact me if you have any questions or need more ideas.

Rebekah Schrepfer