(Kara Carrier / American Press)
Last Modified: Friday, September 06, 2013 7:36 PM
Don Coombe knows a thing or two about the Awana club. Years before he was an Awana commander, his granddaughter, who lived with him at the time, participated in the program and Coombe saw its value.
Today, several years into leading the club at Moss Bluff Bible Church, Coombe still sees that value. “Awana helps churches and parents work together to develop spiritually strong children and youth who faithfully follow Jesus Christ,” Coombe said. “The program offers a proven approach for evangelizing and disciplining kids in the church and community.”
Moss Bluff Bible Church has been offering the Awana program for almost 35 years, and, according to Coombe, may have one of the longest-running Awana programs in the area. The 2013-14 club session started on Aug. 18 and meets 5-6:30 p.m. each Sunday.
Awana, which is based on 2 Timothy 2:15 and stands for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed, is a program for children ages 2-18 that’s centered on the Gospel. Scripture memory is the key element of the program. Children memorize Scriptures at their own pace and earn awards.
The club is similar to Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts in the way it is set up. The club is divided up according to grade and age groups. Uniforms are worn and patches are earned as children reach certain milestones.
Meetings always include an opening ceremony, with raising the Awana flag and reciting the Awana pledge. Each meeting has three phases: story time or lecture; book time, to study and memorize; and game time.
Moss Bluff Bible Church’s Awana program is available for children age 3 through grade 8. “We average around 60 or so clubbers each meeting night, but we have plenty of room for more,” Coombe said.
First Baptist Church of Westlake also has an Awana program. Their club is for children age 3 through grade 5. Pastor Wayne McEntire, who is the church’s Awana commander, said the young children enjoy the club just as much as the older kids. “It’s remarkable that 3-year-olds can memorize. They can’t read yet, but they can memorize,” he said.
First Baptist Church of Westlake had an Awana program in the 1990s, but let it go. The church started the program back up in 2011, and about 35 children participate. The club meets 5:30-7:15 p.m. each Wednesday during the school year. The 2013-14 session started Sept. 4.
“A lot of people say, ‘What good does it do for a child to memorize?’ ” McEntire said. “I say it gives them a bank. God honors memorizing a Scripture. It serves them for a lifetime and gives them a foundation of building a life on principles and Scripture.”
Coombe and McEntire both said parental involvement and volunteers are important to the program. “Parents need to work with the kids during the week to help the kids memorize their verses,” McEntire said.
Coombe said Moss Bluff Bible Church’s Awana program thrives because it is a servant-heavy club. The church has more than 30 adult volunteers at each meeting to help out. Volunteers are mostly church members, but some are from other organizations.
Both Coombe and McEntire agree that Awana is a great opportunity for children, and they both welcome children from all religions and churches.
“For a child to complete the entire program, from age 2 or 3 to grade 12, that’s quite an accomplishment,” McEntire said.
Coombe said, “Going through the program bodes well for the future of the individual, and that is proven time and time again for the kids that I see. It instills and fosters in children a great deal of knowledge and information about God and country.”
For more information on local Awana clubs, call Moss Bluff Bible Church at 855-1363 or visit mossbluffbiblechurch.com, or call First Baptist Church of Westlake at 439-5758 or visit www.firstbaptistwestlake.org.