To offer youth workers suggestions on how to use the newspaper to
develop youth group discussions.
You've been working all week long struggling with the recent drought. It has been five weeks since you
had any water actually coming to the main tap. Each morning you rise at 5:30 a.m. to make all your
connections to the other side of town, arriving home by 6:30 p.m. if you''re lucky, most often 7:00 p.m.
Finally, it''s Friday!!! A weekend to simply relax. But wait! Your boss enters your office and informs
you that you need to work this Saturday. Ugh!
You work all day on Saturday, arriving home about 6:30 p.m. After cooking up some sukuma and ugali
you sit down in your chair, take a deep breath, and reach over to turn on the TV. Suddenly, you
remember that you have to teach the teen class tomorrow morning! What to do?!? At times like these,
one wishes to have a pre-packaged curriculum that could be simply read through, photocopied, and
distributed for use on Sunday.
One of the most painful realities of youth ministry in Kenya (and in many other parts of the world) is
the incredible vacuum of good resources. The most difficult part of preparing a lesson often lies in the
struggle of digging up a creative topic or theme. One can spend hours just thinking of an idea. Once a
teacher gets a theme and a little input, the preparation seems fall into place. That is why teachers are
trained to come up with yearly plans, quarterly plans, and outlines of where the class is going.
Let's be honest. Most youth workers are not paid. You volunteer your time and energies above and
beyond your regular work or study schedules. Every youth worker has experienced "late Saturday night
panic" while desperately grappling for a morning lesson. We are often simply surviving. And thank
God he gives us the strength! Where is the answer? How about the Daily Nation? Seriously. I have
found many good topics and materials for discussion in recent issues of the Nation. Consider this
example: The Sunday Nation, February 23, 1997.
Here are a few examples of articles found from various sections of one issue, along with a potential
topic for a biblical lesson.
1. Lifestyle, p.7, "Telling a lie now and then does no harm." Potential topic-lying.
2. Young Nation, p.5, "Do we really need our parents?" Potential topic-families, getting along with
3. Lifestyle, pp.6-7, "Is Kenya ripe for Ms. President?" Potential topic-What is God''s role for
4. Lifestyle, p.4, "How far should we go in punishing the wicked?" Potential topics-love your
enemies, punishment from God, capital punishment.
AN EXAMPLE ARTICLE
Here''s an idea from an article from this same paper that you can use in class: The Sunday Nation,
February 23, 1997, p. 6-"Why do Kenyans treat watchmen so shabbily?" This article addresses one of
the lowest paid and poorly regarded groups of Kenya. Weekly, stories are published of watchmen who
are brutally beaten or killed on duty. These men are given no guns (guns are illegal in Kenya), no
comforts, little pay, no benefits, and no insurance. These watchmen work very hard, and most of them
are proud of what they do. Yet they make no more than 4,000 shillings per month ($80.00) and are
given no benefits at all. They even have to buy their own uniform. Typical is this recent event: three
watchmen were killed in Vihiga District. They were guarding property when gangsters struck. Standing
between the gangsters and their booty were the guards. Who will be the guardian of the guards?
A discussion from this article could discover how Jesus treated people and how Christians are to act. A
group could also examine why we often only serve those we that we like or are comfortable with.
Divide the group into smaller groups. Distribute the article and have them read it as a group. Ask the
1. Where should Watchmen stay?
2. Where do they stay?
3. Should they have walkie talkies?
4. Should they actually fight off those who trespass onto a property?
5. What should the police do?
6. Should watchmen be expected to risk their lives? Would you?
7. Why should a watchman not stay inside a vehicle show room when on duty?
8. Why should watchman remain out in the could or sun, exposed to the elements, while the objects
they guard (like cars) are nice and warm inside the showroom?
9. Do guards get paid enough?
Use any of the following suggestions to facilitate discussion about the article. You can use them before
or after reading the watchmen article:
1. Ask this question: "Have you ever helped somebody or done something in which afterward nobody
noticed or said ''thank you?'' " "I''m thinking of some people who we see around everyday that probably
get the least recognition or notice than anybody. I''ll give this pack of gum to anyone who can name
who I''m thinking of."
2. Ask the students to tell any stories they know of robberies or theft. Then ask "where was the
3. Bring in a watchman to talk about his life. If he stays be careful not to make him feel
uncomfortable by some of the questions.
4. If you know him it would help.
5. Bring in a representative from Rooms of Refuge (Christian outreach and ministry among
watchmen in the city) P.O. Box #44685, Nairobi.
6. Break into small groups and have the class create a skit in which a watchman is hired to guard a
7. Other skit ideas emerge from biblical references:
-The separation of the obedient from the disobedient: the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46).
-The woman who came into Levi''s house and spilled perfume on Jesus'' head and kissed His feet
-The woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-ff).
-Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit (Phil. 2:3-11).
-Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
-Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you
-Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to
everyone else (1 Thes. 5:15).
-You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature;
rather, serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).
-Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God''s
grace in its various forms (1 Peter 4:10).
-Be shepherds of God''s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must,
but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve (1 Peter
1. How do you define "serving others?"
2. Why is serving others so difficult?
3. Who is the most difficult person for you to serve? Why?
4. Read 1 Thes. 5:15. Have you ever been in a situation in which you wanted or even did "pay back
wrong for wrong?" Why is this difficult?
5. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without
knowing it (Hebrews 13:2). What do you think about this verse? Do think you have "entertained
angels" and didn''t know it?
So, start reading the paper with an eye for creatively using it. When you run across a good article, clip
it out and you may lessen the frequency of those late Saturday night panic attacks!
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
* Have you ever used a newspaper article in a Sunday School class or other lesson?
* Is it important that young people discuss and think biblically about issues of today''s world?
* How can we help get the discussion going?
Kent McDonald cCYS