About six months ago, a pastor in Kenya told his congregation that they could be saved by good works. In his pews were about 80 children from a nearby orphanage, ranging from second grade to high school, who recognized his teaching as false.
“The kids came home visibly upset,” said David Pederson, who runs the Christian compound where the orphanage is housed, along with a Christian classical school and a teachers’ college, housing for missionaries, and a farm. “They were really distraught: ‘This isn’t what the Bible teaches. This isn’t right.’”
“They were debating and asking questions,” said David’s wife, Julie, who co-administrates the campus with him. “It was really good.” Within a week or two, most of them switched to other churches.
The children had just finished 30 weeks in a daily Bible study on the book of Romans, so they knew grace backward and forward. But the timing wasn’t just an unlucky coincidence for the pastor – these children are in the middle of a 553-week Bible study. That’s more than 10 years of memory verses and study questions.
“By the time they get to grade 12, they will have studied 90 percent of the Bible verse-by-verse,” David said.
The curriculum was written by Reformed theologians and is used—partially or completely—in orphanages, church schools, widows’ groups, and partner churches in Africa. Thousands of students, teachers, employees, church leaders, and church members have studied the Bible with it. A Bible study this intense “doesn’t exist anywhere else—even in the United States,” David said.