22 Years and Counting
My girls were in early elementary grades of homeschooling in 1993. They sat in the back of a chapel classroom at Ft. Carson Army base while the military wives and I inductively studied Paul's last letter, 2 Timothy. My girls asked, "Why are the ladies getting to color in their notes? Can we color too?"
The reasonable answer was "No, this is adult study. You will need to wait until you are older to understand how to study this way." But I could not bring myself to close the door of their interest. There must be a way to harness their curiosity and help them grow in their understanding of God and His Word, without waiting until the world has turned their hearts to other things. I prayed and God so wonderfully answered!
God showed me that the college level process of inductive learning was applicable to children as well. In fact, He speaks throughout the book of Proverbs about the way He created us to learn: knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. These steps are necessary for any area of learning. Why not teach the process in the context of Scripture? Those tools are useful in every learning curve of life.
With this in mind, I began writing simple lessons for my daughters that correlated with the lessons in class. Instead of diving into the text with all kinds of tools, they learned about one tool of study each week. We gradually build a toolkit that they could use to learn more from reading (or hearing) God's Word. We would read the text of Scripture multiple times, find appropriate cross references to help us understand, and gather up the truths learned, looking for ways to live them out. Sometimes we would express gratitude, sometimes work a review puzzle, sometimes actively do what we learned about.
In God's sovereignty, He started us with a book of the Bible that has tangible concepts easily understood by children: soldiers, athletes, farmers, and guarding the treasure of the Gospel. God enabled me to write on a reading level suitable for early readers. (Several years later a reading specialist analyzed the first 3 studies and found they actually were written on 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade reading levels, respectively!) At one point, some executive leaders in a conservative denomination asked about my credentials to write curriculum for children. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, I love learning God's Word, and I'm a Mom. I can not do this on my own, but God gives the vision and God equips!
My motherly heart yearned for my girls to begin a personal and close walk with God as soon as possible. Not only were we having fun adventuring through the Word together, other families were asking to use the lessons! I started making copies for them, and in a few months time, we found ourselves at our first homeschool convention with 50 copies of Know & Grow in 2 Timothy: Guard the Gospel study for children!
Over the next 11 years, thousands of families - parents and children - learned to study God's Word firsthand, together! At one conference in Ohio, there was an eager young man named Andrew. After he worked through 2 Timothy, he asked his pastor if he could join him when he visited new families in the church. Andrew wrote some lessons to share with the children so they could learn, too. His Mom beamed as he shared with me that he is now a Junior Pastor's Assistant. I would love to see how God is continuing to work in his life!
I went through a season of not writing, and yet God continued to have people call, asking for the studies. They have been used in small groups, at camps, as personal devotions.
The LORD continues to encourage me with these words from Psalm 71:17-19,
Oh God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim Your might to another generation,
Your power to all those to come.
Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things, O God, who is like You?
If you worked through a CIBS study as a child or a parent, please drop me a note and let us know what God is doing in your life today. And if you haven't worked through one, I encourage you to check them out!
O Father, You alone are worthy of our praise! Thank You for leading us, one step at a time. Father, we ask that You would grow a hunger in more families to know You firsthand through Your Word. Bring along older parents and grandparents to encourage young families to be anchored in You and Your Word. May Your Holy Spirit pour truth into their hearts and minds. May this generation guard the truths of the Gospel that it will not be twisted or distorted. May Your children boldly share Your Word with others. As people on earth become more and more lovers of self and haters of God, may Your children cling to truth as they have learned it from Your Word, and may we all boldly speak truth in love, in season and out of season, that others may come to truly know You as their Lord and Savior. Amen.