Children race each other around metal chairs in the auditorium, its colorful patchwork flooring an exciting backdrop. Beatriz joins the frenzy as the kids get their energy out and race faster and faster, round and round. It may look like these children are at summer camp or gym class, but their meeting is about much more than games like these — they’re there to know God. 

Awana is an international ministry equipping churches with resources to teach children how to know Jesus through His Word, and to love and serve Him.  The name is an acronym for “approved workmen are not ashamed,” found in the New Testament of the Bible in 2 Timothy 2:15. Thanks to Mario Salgado, who runs the Awana program at La Providencia, the children have the opportunity to use this curriculum to study the Bible together and grow in understanding of who Jesus is.

Mario started the program a year and a half ago, but his history with it is much longer. Together with his wife, Beatriz, Mario lead his local church’s youth group using the program

Awana is different than other Bible-learning methods for kids because it combines Biblical teaching and Bible memorization with games, other lessons and snacks. 

Awana’s “hook,” as Beatriz says, is the games — combined with snacks, it’s no wonder the children enjoy their time at the program. Jose, a boy in the Salgado’s family, agrees. “I like the games and snacks,” he says. Older kids serve as leaders to the younger ones and sometimes teach lessons. 

“It’s the way to empower young people,” the Salgados said of the kids’ participation in the program.  

Though Mario runs Awana, several different parents shoulder the responsibility of preparing the lessons and meeting times. The presenter studies the material in advance and comes prepared to teach the lesson.  

Emma, another child in the Salgado family, says that she enjoys the lesson the most. “I like the way the parents teach the class,” she says. “They explain the concepts well.”  

Her sister, Loida, says she likes the songs they sing the most.