Every Sunday afternoon, Wendy Ramnarina drives on the narrow, bumpy road up Cotton Hill in Trinidad calling for the children to come to Sunday school.
“Come Sabrina! Come!” she shouts. Her warm smile and familiar voice let the children know that it’s time, so they race across the tall grass, swerve between the palm trees, and head towards the large mango tree near the house where they meet each week.
About 20 children and a few of their parents gather underneath the home of Sunday school teacher Claudine Latchman and open up The Greatest Journey discipleship booklets to learn about Jesus Christ. They don’t have a church building but are thankful for some shelter from the afternoon rain and for the old pews that have been given to them.
“I like The Greatest Journey because of the stories, games, and colors,” 8-year-old Akila Latchman said. “I learned that God made everything, and that He is the only one who can save me. If God wasn’t here, I don’t know what I would do.”
Akila and about 120 other children are using The Greatest Journey in Cotton Hill–a Rastafarian and Hindu area where many of the families perform animal sacrifices. The youth who live there usually don’t finish high school, and teenage pregnancies and drug and alcohol abuse are common. Wendy and the other teachers are hopeful that their kids will remember the Bible lessons they teach them and share the truths with their families at home.
“It has affected their lives in so many positive ways,” Wendy, National Leadership Team Prayer Coordinator, said. “We now have three Sunday schools, so it is definitely effective.”
The first Sunday school started three years ago after Wendy and NLT Coordinator Rhea Hussein handed out gift-filled shoe boxes in the area. The initial response they received from the community was inspiring.
“On that day, God gave us a vision for a Sunday school,” Wendy said. “He wouldn’t give us a distribution with over 100 children just to send them back to their normal lives.”
Burdened with a passion to share Jesus Christ with the kids and their families, Wendy quit her job as a computer teacher and began to serve full-time. The National Leadership Team in Trinidad has been starting Sunday schools like the ones in Cotton Hill all over the country, and according to Wendy, “When you build a Sunday school, you build a church.”
This was just the case in Thompson Gardens and Hardbargain Village, communities where two young girls received shoe boxes and accepted Christ.
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An Eternal Mother-Daughter Bond
Seventeen-year-old Serlene Mohammed was at the very first Operation Christmas Child distribution in Trinidad in 2000. On that day, she heard about Jesus, accepted Him as her Savior, and then wanted to come back to Bible study every week. Eventually, her mother Susan started to come with her.
“I think that God used Serlene to bring me back to the Lord,” Susan said. “Since I accepted Christ, my family has changed; my life has changed.”
Now, almost 10 years later, that small Bible study Serlene and Susan attended has become Christ Harvest Church, which is just down the road from where the first distribution happened. The mother and daughter team up to teach The Greatest Journey there to about 30 kids every Sunday.
“I Had a Makeover”
About an hour southwest of Christ Harvest Church, The Burning Bush Assembly is being built in Hardbargain Village. Church member Philip Hong Ping is helping with the work since his business is in construction, but if it wasn’t for his daughter Felisha, he probably wouldn’t be there today.
She received a shoe box nine years ago when she was eight and invited him to church where he prayed to receive Christ.
“God has changed my life tremendously,” Philip said. “Sometimes God breaks you up and makes you over. I had a makeover.”
The entire Hong Ping family has been involved in the church plant, building, painting, and inviting people to services and shoe box distributions.
According to the National Leadership Team, Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey are the vessels building churches around Trinidad. Racial and religious prejudices have been broken, thousands of children have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and many of them are giving back by handing out shoe boxes and teaching the Greatest Journey in Sunday schools.
- For the National Leadership Team in Trinidad as they coordinate shoe box distributions;
- For the Sunday schools in Trinidad as they go through The Greatest Journey lessons;
- That the Gospel will continue to spread throughout Trinidad so that families and communities will be transformed for Jesus Christ.