Fear and Courage by Philomène Luyindula

Fear and Courage by Philomène Luyindula

While adults deepened their spirituality during Lent, children had the difficult task of learning about and discussing fear and courage. Children aged 9-11 and 12-14 had Judy Cooke and Rob Robertson teaching them (for the first time in a long time).

Judy’s group defined what courage is, looked at some courageous people that she knows and made their own list of courageous people. It came as no surprise when they listed her amongst these courageous individuals because of her work with HIV positive women. She was very touched by that. This is what she had to say about the first day’s lesson: ‘I was so moved by the children’s participation and their goodness - the things they are doing in their lives which show their courage, their absorbing of the knowledge that Jesus is love and spreading it themselves.’
The next time Judy’s group met, they looked at the issue of fear, which they depicted in ascending order on a thermometer.

RUC Children’s fears (9-11 years old)
• Being robbed
• To be alone in my house without my parents and a stone knocks on the roof
• To lose something
• Parents shouting
• Terrible dreams
• People making fun of me
• Singing my song in front of the Principal and class
• Doing a presentation in class

Each lesson in Sunday School has a particular objective, all centred on
Jesus’ teachings and his life. What is wonderful about the teachers is their willingness to translate all the lessons in a way that can impact the life of the child today.

Rob Robertson’s first session was on teaching children the different responses to fear: flight, fight, freeze and face it. That was done in a very practical way, by enacting a mugging. I do at this stage need to reassure you that we fully intend to return your children to you unharmed!! We are careful to make all activities age appropriate.

This was Danielle’s response to the lesson: ‘Sunday School has been really great this year. We do lots of role-plays and Rob taught us how to toyi-toyi. And we learnt about the 4 Fs: Fight, Freeze, Flee and Face it out. We just do fun things and he has so many stories to tell us. We do so many different things like action things, fun things and historical things. We did a skit with a robber with a mugger and a walker. By putting ourselves into different situations, we can feel what it’s like to be in a different situation. I’ve learnt a lot.’

Caitlan wrote: ‘Rob will start the lesson with toyi-toyi to warm us up. And maybe he will settle down and then give us a work sheet or a comic. And maybe he will talk for a while about stuff that he’s done or seen or from the Bible. Then he will maybe talk about the last lesson for a couple of minutes. And he sort of concludes the lesson nicely. And then he will go ‘okay, end of lesson’. Sometimes he carries on a bit after the lesson but it’s not boring stuff, it’s fun stuff. You want him to carry on after the lesson.

The comic he gave us was about Martin Luther King. On 16 March he taught us a chant to go with the toyi-toyi and he gave us a sheet with things on about how Gandhi was inspired by Jesus and things about the Bible, about how Gandhi was inspired by the verses that say if someone strikes on your right cheek then turn the other cheek also. Then he explained how Martin Luther King was inspired by Gandhi. In fact it was Jesus who inspired all the good doers. Jesus would probably face it out.’

The younger children looked at times when Jesus had courage and when he was scared. Then they had a lot of activities on the same subject including a courage crossword, coloring-in pictures, playing stuck in the mud (being brave freeing someone who was stuck). Because Thato had been co-opted to be a Sunday School teacher for two Sundays in a row, and wasn’t feeling very confident about it, the five little girls I was teaching chanted to him the truth they had just learnt: ‘Be brave Thato, have courage, Jesus was also scared sometimes but he had courage’.