Through God’s amazing providence, tens of thousands of children at primary schools across the UK are now using Religious Education resources produced by Reformed, Bible-believing Christians.
Around 1,000 teaching and activity manuals have been bought by schools. These materials (called ‘Mayflower Christian Resources’) have been produced by Mayflower Christian Bookshop, the bookshop of Spring Road Evangelical Church in Southampton.
At a time when children face so many bad influences, it is especially encouraging that these manuals help RE teachers to explain clearly what the Bible actually teaches, without having to use other resources that put a modern ‘spin’ on the Scriptures.
We can only marvel at God’s timing in helping us produce these resources at exactly the time when schools needed to fulfil their curriculum responsibilities but were struggling to find anything suitable.
There are two manuals, one for the Old Testament and one for the New. These are for use in primary schools for children aged 7 to 11.
How the work began
Mark Goodridge, a member of Spring Road Evangelical Church and an RE teacher, began using Mayflower Bible Lesson puzzle pages. These were produced for Sunday schools, but Mark found that they could be adapted easily for use in class, and that his pupils enjoyed completing them as a summary of the lesson taught.
As there was little trustworthy Bible-based material available, he suggested adapting this material and making it available for the benefit of other schools.
After prayerful consideration, Mark Stocker (a pastor), Frances Fountain (a writer of Sunday school materials), Ruth Goodridge (a professional artist and illustrator) and Linda Smalley (a junior school teacher) met together to discuss preparation of the manual.
Preparation and contents
The New Testament manual took two years to write, design and prepare before it was published in 1999. After its publication we had many enquiries regarding the availability of an Old Testament equivalent.
After a further 18 months of prayer, planning, consultation, writing, drawing and proof-reading, we finished the Old Testament version and launched it in April 2001. It is early days, but we are thankful that close to 200 manuals have been sold at the time of writing. Some 800 New Testament manuals have been sold.
In preparing these manuals we were acutely aware of our need of wisdom. As with the New Testament manual, we wanted to be faithful to Scripture and yet not ‘barbed’ or over confrontational in our presentation of the truth.
The Bible says
We have sought to make it clear that we are not forcing our view. All we are doing is allowing the Bible to speak for itself. Whether referring to the one true God, creation or the reason why Jesus died on the cross, we constantly use the phrase ‘The Bible says’. We go on to state what the Scriptures teach, giving the Bible references.
‘Teacher’s notes’ help the teacher gain an overview of the main elements of a particular incident in the Bible, while seeking to draw out the main teaching and application it highlights. We suggest further activities and give ideas for applying the message, providing further points that could be discussed in class.
A children’s version of the story can be photocopied and given to the children, which allows them to read and answer the puzzle page without the help of the teacher.
We are thankful that so many schools are now using this material. We count it a joy and privilege to have been involved in this project and give all glory to God who has given us the help.
We are encouraged to hear how the manuals are being used in schools up and down the country. RE is a compulsory subject and we have provided material which many are pleased to use as it presents traditional Christian teaching as found in the Bible.
One headmistress in the North of England wrote: ‘My whole RE curriculum will now be based on your resources. For the past year we have used exclusively the NT book with years 2,3 and 4 and from now on we will use the OT book with years 5 and 6. I find the resource … varied in its approach, popular with children and most helpful to teachers’.
Older people are often horrified to discover how little the children of today know about the Bible and Christian teaching. We are living in a godless age and children are growing up without hearing the truth.
They are taught evolution and therefore have little understanding of a Creator God. Morality is relative and there is little appreciation of the Ten Commandments. The life and death of the Lord Jesus Christ have little relevance to many.
Our prayer is that children may now hear the truth at school, even from the lips of teachers who may not know the Lord for themselves. God’s Word is powerful and it will accomplish that which he pleases. We all feel the need of prayer both for the children and teachers.
What can we do?
The Lord is able to take anything and use it for his glory. Psalm 78 speaks of teaching children so that they may learn, and not be like their rebellious fathers.
Please join us in praying that the door of opportunity might remain open and that the good news of the gospel may find entrance into the hearts of many children. Even in these dark and difficult days many who are young may yet come to know the Lord.