Ponderosa Baptist Church at 1800 N. Beeline Highway in Payson has partnered with AWANA international to expand the AWANA Club in Payson.
Ponderosa has sponsored AWANA for junior and senior high students since last September and the program has been so successful that the church has expanded the club to include students starting at age 3.
For nearly 60 years, AWANA has been a leader in children's ministry, helping churches and parents worldwide raise children and youth to know, love and serve Christ.
Based near Chicago, AWANA is the only organization with fully integrated evangelism and discipleship programs for ages 2 to 18 that actively involve parents, church leaders and mentors. Each week, more than a million children and youth, 250,000 volunteers and 300-plus field staff take part in AWANA in over 17,000 churches in the U.S. and internationally.
AWANA, which derives its name from the first letters of the Biblical phrase "Approved Workmen are Not Ashamed" from 2 Timothy 2:15, works with churches from nearly 100 different denominations. It began in 1941 as a children's program at the North Side Gospel Center in Chicago.
Lance Latham, North Side's senior pastor, collaborated with the church's youth director, Art Rorheim, to develop weekly clubs that would appeal to churched and unchurched kids, lead them to trust Christ for salvation and grow them in enduring faith and service to God.
Other churches learned about the success of the program and inquired about its availability. In 1950, Latham and Rorheim founded AWANA as a parachurch organization. By 1960, 900 churches had started AWANA programs.
By 1972, AWANA had started its first international club. Today, children and youth in more than 100 countries participate in AWANA programs and millions of adults are alumni.
According to Pastor Joseph Falkner, Ponderosa Baptist's senior pastor, "Nothing can compete with our responsibility to introduce our children to the Truth of Jesus Christ. It is our desire to help parents in Payson as they strive to reach this goal. AWANA makes learning about Christ and the Bible interesting, fun and relevant. Children thrive in this encouraging environment.
"Children learn Bible verses, songs and games as they learn to know, love and serve the Lord. They also make life-long positive friendships.
"We welcome all the children of Payson to our AWANA Club."
AWANA Club meetings are held at Ponderosa Baptist Church on Sunday afternoons from 3 to 5 p.m. for children through grade 6, and on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. for junior and senior high students.
For more information or to enroll, call 474-9279.