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STONECROFT AFRICA BIBLE STUDIES HANDBOOK

Welcome to Stonecroft Bible Studies we make the Word of God accessible to everyone, no matter where they may be on their spiritual journey.
We pray and expect that these studies will open up many opportunities for you to be equipped and encouraged to impact your community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

AN OVERVIEW:
Stonecroft Bible Studies were initially designed as a means for follow-up at outreach meetings. The studies’ reach has expanded and studies are used in prisons, the workplace, churches, and other locations.

KEY CHARACTERISTICS:
Stonecroft Bible Studies effectively blend evangelism and discipleship. The Gospel is woven through every Stonecroft Bible Study.

Each study is prepared and conducted so that those unfamiliar with God's Word can participate. Unfortunately many of the women taking part on the studies in Africa will not have their own Bible so page numbers have been removed from the African study material and a Bible Handbook has been created in Swahili with every Bible verse referenced within the study books, these have been done in sequential order in each lesson.

Stonecroft Bible Studies are held in homes, workplaces, churches, schools and even outdoors in places like Africa.
They are formatted to cover both topical studies and books of the Bible and are available at the introductory and advanced level.
Stonecroft Bible Studies are easy to use in both small group and larger settings and offer a variety of study lengths (4-14 lessons).The Trinity Series is 6 lessons per book a total of 18.

Most studies include a Guidebook for the Guide to facilitate the study. The Study Book is used by each participant along with her Bible Handbook.

Group discussion is a key element of learning and growing together.

STUDY RECOMMENDATIONS:
In most Stonecroft Bible Studies, the participants use a Study Book and the Swahili Union New Testament Bible obtained from the Tanzania Bible Society or any other translation depending upon the country but as already mentioned a Bible Handbook is available for those without a Bible.

Study groups generally meet once a week for 60 to 90 minutes. If time is limited, the group often chooses to divide the lessons in half. Discussion is generated by shared answers to the questions in the Study Book and by reading Scripture.

In order to expand outreach and discipleship, it is recommended that the group look for ways to multiply so that others in the community can be impacted by the truth of God’s Word.

DESCRIPTION OF STUDIES:
There are three types of Stonecroft Bible Studies:

• Introductory Trinity Studies
• Studies for Growing Christians
• Topical Studies

We encourage those who have never participated in a Stonecroft study to consider starting with an Introductory Trinity Study.- ‘Who is Jesus?’, ‘What is God Like?’, and ‘Where is the Holy Spirit?’ are great resources for both new believers and those seeking answers to their faith questions. These have already been translated into Swahili and work is ongoing to translate into other languages for Malawi and DR Congo.

POLICIES FOR STONECROFT BIBLE STUDIES:
Stonecroft Ministries sets the policies for its Bible studies. It is essential that everyone serving with Stonecroft Bible Studies abide by the following policies:

• The Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is included in every Stonecroft Bible Study, is to be presented in a clear, concise manner.

• Stonecroft Ministries does not hold official positions on doctrinal, social, or political issues outside its Statement of Faith.
Those involved in leadership in Stonecroft Ministries will:

• Agree to the Stonecroft Ministries Statement of Faith and Policies

• Work in harmony with local churches

• Ensure that any statements made during discussions related to social and political issues are not in any way reflected as an official position of Stonecroft Ministries.

In the Stonecroft Bible Studies program, it is suggested that the participants use the Stonecroft-approved Study Book and Guidebook. In the Introductory Trinity Studies, it is suggested that all participants use the same edition of the Swahili Union New Testament Bible or Bible Handbook for the Tanzania ministry.

Potential Guides and Coordinators are requested to complete the Stonecroft Bible Studies Application. Guides and Coordinators are selected and trained by local Bible Study leadership. A training video has been created in an attempt by the Barbados Stonecroft Bible Study ladies to train the Guides that will take Stonecroft Bible Studies into Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda and other African countries. These four 15 minute videos will also be recorded in Swahili and other African languages to assist with the education of future African Guides which along with this Handbook should equip them for the ministry.

GUIDES TRAINING PROGRAM:

GUIDE RESPONSIBILITIES:
The Guide’s responsibility is to lead and guide the Bible Study. As the Guide serves they have the opportunity to impact their community by introducing others to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They also have the opportunity to identify other potential Guides from within their group that can be nurtured and encouraged to start their own Stoncroft Bible Study Outreach Group once they have completed the Introductory Trinity Series and the Guide training.

A Stonecroft Bible Study Guide:
• Prays regularly for each person who will be in the Bible study.

• Begins the Bible study lesson with prayer.

• A Stonecroft Bible Study Guide is trained by a Coordinator to facilitate Stonecroft Bible Studies; stays informed and equipped on ways to improve skills as a Guide and facilitator.

• The Guide complies with Stonecroft Bible Studies policies and informs participants on how to be an effective and unified group by following the Guidelines referred to in this introductory video.

• She prepares for the group by reviewing the Study Book and Guidebook materials; she makes her group aware of the importance of confidentiality in the group and keeps the group focused on study questions and Scripture.

• A Stonecroft Bible Study Guide provides opportunities for study participants to be informed about Stonecroft Ministries and aware of the local opportunities for them to connect.

• She seeks to point participants to Scripture to find answers to faith questions. Discussion is encouraged only about what the Bible says, rather than focusing on what church doctrines or traditions teach.

• She seeks to avoid distractions and disruptions stemming from discussions about doctrinal, social, or political topics on which people and/or churches disagree.

A GUIDES QUALIFICATIONS
1. The Guide must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
2. Be passionate about the transforming power of God’s Word
3. Agrees with Stonecroft Bible Study policies and guidelines
4. Communicates and works well with others
5. Has a desire for people to know God’s Word and to grow spiritually as Christians.

INTERVIEWING POTENTIAL BIBLE STUDIES GUIDES
SELECTION OF GUIDES

The Pastors (initially from the Africa Training Bible School) who were trained to be Guides will identify local Guides thoughtfully, prayerfully and strategically from their local church. Selecting key people as Guides in the communities in their region and will provide opportunities for greater expansion of Stonecroft Bible Studies.
It is important to look for the qualities in a Guide that would correspond to the positional responsibilities described in this section.

The following guidelines are helpful when considering individuals to serve as Guides:

1. Pray prior to meeting with the candidate, asking God to give both you and the candidate wisdom and discernment regarding this position.

2. Arrange a time to get acquainted with each other. Be prepared to acquaint them with Stonecroft Bible Studies and Stonecroft Ministries, if needed.

3. Focus on the areas during the interview that are included on the Stonecroft Bible Studies Application Form.

o Give information on Stonecroft Ministries—refer the Guide to:
• This Stonecroft Africa Bible Study Handbook.
• Visit Stonecrofts corporate web site stonecroft.org for further information.

o Ask the Guide to briefly state how she trusted in Jesus Christ alone for her Salvation and give Bible verses which confirm her Salvation experience.

o Ask the Guide to describe how she would answer questions about the identity of Jesus Christ.

o Enquire of the Guide what motivated her to consider serving with Stonecroft Bible Studies.

o Check to see her willingness to work with people with varied beliefs, cultural, and denominational backgrounds

o Ask the Guide about her other activities she is involved in and what experience she has in studying God’s Word and any experience in guiding a Bible Study.

o Ensure she is familiar with Policies for Stonecroft Bible Studies and Statement of Faith

Potential Guides need to read and understand Stonecroft’s policies concerning distractions

Responsibilities of the Pastor who will become the Coordinator
• Obtains the completed Guide Application Form from the potential Guide.

• Carefully reads the completed application to gain assurance that the Guides testimony is clear.

• Prayerfully consider asking the candidate a few more questions about her relationship with Jesus Christ, such as:

1. “I’d like to hear more about your journey with God. What role has Christ played?”

2. If a Stonecroft Bible Study participant asked you how they could be in a relationship with Jesus Christ, how would you respond?

3. What is your understanding of the Gospel, and how would you communicate it?

You may want to consider reading through the Would You Believe It? booklet with the Guide.

Schedule a time to train the candidate as a Guide. Use the following resources:

1. Stonecroft Africa Bible Studies Handbook
If they have never experienced a Stonecroft study, you will need to work together through a few of the lessons in the ‘Who is Jesus? series, so they better understand what is involved.

The Pastor or Coordinator keeps the application on their files.
Remember that not everyone is ready to be a Guide. If you discern that a potential Guide is not able to focus on the core vision of Stonecroft Bible Studies and avoid controversial, social, and political issues, gently encourage her away from guiding the study; instead encourage her to participate in a study. You may want to discuss this with a regional leader or her Pastor.

After completing the Guide Training process, contact, by email, your African Stonecroft Regional Leader with the new Guide information.

The Stonecroft Regional Leader in Africa, Pastor David Akondowi, will contact Stonecroft Ministry Support America with this information. He may do this by e-mailing: connections@stonecroft.org.
Please include the Guide’s complete mailing address, telephone number(s), and e-mail address as seen on the Bible Studies Information Card.

Upon Stonecroft’s receipt of the information, the newly selected Guide will receive a welcome e-mail, which will be translated into her native tongue, confirming her new position. Guides will also be part of the network of volunteers and can receive Stonecroft’s e-newsletter in English, and be able to access the Leaders OnLine, and other English resources from Stonecroft Ministries website.

Reporting your new Guides will assure they are identified as leaders. We consider every person who is involved valuable to your local ministry and part of reaching our world for Jesus Christ.

EQUIPPING STONECROFT GUIDES:
Well-trained Guides are invaluable to the experience of people exploring faith, as well as those who have been in Bible studies for many years.

Many Coordinators send out a newsletter from time to time to keep in touch. Conference calls, if available by Skype, or other social media networks are also a great resource to keep the Guides networked in your region.

Coordinators should plan a few times a year for Bible Study Guides to get together for mutual support and encouragement, as well as equipping in how to effectively facilitate Stonecroft Bible Studies.
Much is experienced through networking, prayer, sharing common concerns, as well as learning people skills and how to respond to challenging questions!

Training times for Guides can be planned with a seasonal eg Christmas gathering or fun theme eg someone’s Birthday or special Bank Holiday.

Here are some ideas to consider for Guide training events:
• A special time of prayer and fellowship
• A Scripture challenge or devotional, encouraging and thanking them for serving
• Introduction of Guides and a sharing of positive results in their studies

Time of training: i.e. how to share your testimony, multiplying the outreach in your community, introducing Stonecroft to the local church or community service organization. This also should be a time of learning from each other. Have Guides share how they invite participants, the most difficult situations they have encountered, and where they have seen God at work in the participants’ lives. End with encouragement and a time to pray for one another.

DIRECTIONS FOR GUIDING:
THE PURPOSE:

Outreach – The studies provide an effective way to share Salvation through Jesus Christ with others.
We are looking at promoting the Stonecroft Bible Studies initially through the 280 churches in the Africa Training Bible School (ATBS) in Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and DR Congo as well as the Hope Community Centre, Kampala, Uganda.

We are believing God to also combine it with a Stonecroft Women’s Empowerment Program (SWEP) that you will learn about in more detail later. The women in SWEP will start the Sponsorship program by going through the Stonecroft Bible Study Outreach Trinity Series starting with ‘What is God Like? then ‘Who is Jesus’ and lastly “Where is the Holy Spirit?”

On completing SWEP they will be encouraged to become Guides, using the Africa Training video as part of their training, as well as this Handbook enabling them to start a Stonecroft Bible Study Outreach Group in their home when they return to their villages. Or their local church, subject to permission from their Pastor, inviting friends, family, co-workers and neighbours.

Discipleship – New and mature Christians can learn more about God and grow in their relationship with Him. The studies explain how to apply Biblical principles to everyday situations. Many other Study Books are available with Guidebooks and these will also be translated into the local language. The Africa Training Bible School will be using these Bible Studies as part of their curriculum. For example: Life’s new beginning, Living my life, Philippians, James, Romans etc.

THE UNIQUENESS:
So what makes Stonecroft Bible Studies different from most other Bible studies on the market?

• The studies are designed to be used with a New Testament that is readily available through the Bible Society in Tanzania, their mandate is to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ by translating, producing, distributing and encouraging people to use the Scriptures in their day-to-day lives. The Swahili Union Version is available from the Bible Society located in Central Tanzania in the Dodoma Region. The page numbers however have been removed in the Swahili translation of the Bible Study and a Bible Handbook has been created in cases where the participants do not have a Bible of their own.

• The studies are written in an easy-to-use format for those new to Bible Study.

• Remember the Guide is not a Bible teacher but is learning along with those who attend the Bible Study.

THE LOGISTICS:
Stonecroft Bible Studies are easy to lead.
Notes to the Guide are enclosed in a dotted border in the Guidebook, they are not to be read aloud.

Texts which is printed inside a box is also in the Study Book. These portions are to be read aloud by study participants.

A series of dots (.....) indicates that the Guide is to allow the group to participate by answering a question, reading a Bible verse or discussing the topic.

Bold type Bible references followed by 5 dots, signifies a verse that is to be read aloud during the study by a member of the group.

When a reference is in regular print, it is either too long to read in the group or it is not required to obtain the answer.

PRIOR TO THE BIBLE STUDY:
A few essentials –
Become approved as a Stonecroft Guide by completing the Stonecroft Bible Studies application form that has been translated into Swahili for our Tanzania applicants.
We want to know your church affiliation and position.
We want to be sure that after reading the Stonecroft Ministries Policies and Statement of Faith that you do not have any concerns.

Materials needed for the study:
1. The Introductory Trinity Study Books have been translated into Swahili can be obtained from the ATBS Headquartes, Mbeya, Tanzania.

2. Guidebooks can be obtained from the ATBS Headquartes, Mbeya, Tanzania.

3. The Swahili Union Bible can be obtained from the Tanzania Bible Society.

4. Would You Believe It? Has also been translated into Swahili and can be obtained from the ATBS Headquartes, Mbeya, Tanzania.

5. Information cards have also been translated into Swahili and can be obtained from the ATBS Headquartes, Mbeya, Tanzania.

6. Guide’s Stonecroft Bible Study Application Form can be obtained from the ATBS Headquartes, Mbeya, Tanzania

Find a convenient location for your Bible Study. Consider having the study in a home, church hall, school hall on a Saturday or even outdoors under the shade of a large Tropical tree.

GUIDE PREPARATION PRIOR TO THE STUDY:
Complete the lesson by writing your answers in the Study Book before reading the Guidebook. This will help you understand the thought process others will go through to reach the needed responses.

• Practice reading the lesson aloud, if possible. Underline the key words and phrases that will help you present the lesson to the group. Under normal circumstances lessons should not exceed 1 – 1 1/2 hours particularly if the Bible Study is part of the Stonecroft Women’s Empowerment Program (SWEP) because the ladies will have to leave and start their Vocational Training Lessons.

• At the same time as SWEP students are enjoying their Bible Study their child will be attending their PowerClub to be trained in the Ways of God through Kids in Ministry International along with other children’s ministry including Kids Evangelism and Discipleship Programs.

• Initially the locations will be:
Tanzania – Africa Training Bible School (ATBS) – Mbeya Tanzania
Uganda – Hope Community Centre, Kampala
Malawi – Africa Training Bible School (ATBS) – Uluwa and Vulwa, Malawi

• Pray for those who will be attending the Bible Study.

DURING THE STUDY:
Always start the lesson with prayer. If someone voices a request, suggest that the group write it on the Prayer Request page at the back of the Study Book as a reminder to pray during the week
If the request is urgent, include it in your opening prayer.

Remember that at the first session of each series eg ‘Who is Jesus?’ each person will write her answers in the Study Book during the first lesson. For the remainder of that study encourage the group to complete the lesson prior to the meeting filling in the answers in their Study Book before coming to class.

Read and present the information in the Guide book in a conversational way, while maintaining eye contact. The Guide is studying and learning with the rest of the group; you don’t have to be an expert in the Bible.

The Guide sets the tone and pace of the study by:
• Starting and ending on time, remember many of these Bible Studies will be in conjunction with the Stonecroft Women’s Empowerment Program, so the mums will have to leave and go onto their Vocational Training Program afterwards.

• Use the Guide book and Swahili Union Bible or the relevant translated Bible in other countries, no other supplemental material is needed.

• Encourage everyone to participate in the discussion and seeing that no one dominates. Be kind as you encourage others to participate without upsetting the person that is dominating the meeting.

• Keep the focus on the study of Jesus Christ, not doctrinal, political or social issues. Doctrinal questions are best handled in another setting.
Always look for those in your group who would make good Guides for future studies.

As a Guide be an example of discretion. Discourage people from discussing things that should be kept confidential such as domestic disputes. Apart from the group setting, pray with them and encourage them to seek appropriate Godly counsel.

After the Stonecroft Women’s Empowerment Program is completed, any potential Guides should be identified and trained, using the Handbook and the Training Videos, which can be downloaded from YouTube, enabling the qualified students to return to their homes taking the Stonecroft Bible Studies with them into their village and local churches.

Ask participants to think of people who they can invite to another Bible Study. Encourage them to begin praying for each other by name.
Important Reminders

• If you are unable to lead the Bible Study for any reason, an approved and trained substitute should be called upon to take your place.

• You do not hand your Guide book over to another class member.

STONECROFT WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM - (SWEP)
This Stonecroft Bible Study program is designed to work alongside the Stonecroft Women’s Empowerment Program (SWEP) This is a partnership between Stonecroft and United Caribbean Trust (UCT), a Barbadian registered charity. At UCT we believe that women with access to education, leadership training, basic rights and empowerment, will transform a society and the world.

Mothers within the Stonecroft Women’s Empowerment Program are enrolled for a minimum of one year.

Each week she will be entitled to attend a weekly ‘Encountering God’ devotional time, utilizing the Stonecroft Bible Study materials, translated into her native language.

She will also be able to attend a variety of Empowerment classes such as Dressmaking and design, Computer skills, Moringa processing, animal husbandry etc.

US $40 per month will support her year-long participation in a Life Skills Program that will provide her with leadership education, vocational and technical skills and training, instrumental in ensuring that she receives the tools she needs to regain her strength and stability and access to income generation support.
But above all it will open the door of opportunity to introduce her to the Stonecroft Bible Study and Leadership material.
She will also be entitled to bring one child at the same time to attend the ‘After School Feeding Club’ to be fed physically and Spiritually.
It is our desire to reach out to the women in Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, DR Congo and Uganda initially in a way that demonstrates God’s love while empowering them to free themselves from poverty and be fed Spiritually.

We salute Stonecroft for coming on board in such a wonderful way to assist us to target thousands of young women in the 10/40 window.

AFRICAN DISCIPLESHIP MODEL:
The African Discipleship Model proving that it is necessary to Divide to Multiply and Multiplication is better than Addition!

1. The African model will be introduced first into Tanzania through the Africa Training Bible School. (ATBS) The initial aim is to train the Pastors of the 280 churches within ATBS to become Stonecroft Bible Study Guides. They will be trained using the training videoes and this Africa Bible Study Handbook. These Pastors will become the first Stonecroft Guides in Tanzania - God willing. They will each be given the Stonecroft Guidebooks and Stonecroft Bible Study Books in the Trinity series. Initially 10 ‘What is God like?’ then 10 ‘Who is Jesus?’ and finally 10 ‘Where is the Holy Spirit?’ as well as the Bible Handbooks that compliment this series in case their women at the church do not have a Bible.

2. The Pastors will take this information back to their church in their village and identify 1 key woman, maybe the leader of the Women’s Ministry. Using the training videoes and this Stonecroft Africa Bible Study Handbook, having been translated into Swahili, will train the first local Church Guide. The Pastor will then become a Coordinator to oversee her. He will walk her through a couple of the Bible studies from each of the Trinity series.

3. This new Guide will be given a Stonecroft Guidebook and 10 Stonecroft ‘What is God like?’ Bible Study Books all translated into her native language and 10 Bible Handbooks and she will identify 5 key women within her church, with guide potential, to begin the series.
Each of these 5 potential guides can bring along 1 friend, ideally their Prayer Partner, to the Stonecroft Outreach Trinity Bible Study. Once the ‘What is God like?’ Bible Study is completed she will continue with the ‘Who is Jesus?” and then the ‘Where is the Holy Spirit?” She will then train the 5 key women to become the third generation Stonecroft Guides, using the training videoes and this Africa Stonecroft Bible Study Handbook.

4. She will tben become a Coordinator to oversee these 5 new Guides. She will repeat the Stonecroft Outreach Trinity Bible Study in her local church with 5 other women who will be encouraged to bring along 5 unbelievers or immature Christians to this Outreach series.

5. The Pastor will become the Consulting Coordinator supervising the process.

6. Each of these 5 new Guides, along with their Prayer partners, will identify 1 more key person from within her church or village and 1 other key person, with Guide potential, from another church, of course with their Pastors authorization.

7. Together these 4 women will encourage unbelievers to join the new Stonecroft Outreach Trinity Bible Study series, a maximum of 2 each. Remember Bible Studies should be ideally no more than 10 - 12 women.

8. Once the Stonecroft Outreach Trinity Bible Study series is completed the Coordinator will train the 2 key women, (one from her church and 1 from another church) to become fourth generation Stonecroft Guides. Her Prayer Partner now will remain with her to Disciple this class in further Bible Studies.

9. The process is then duplicated within the other church that had been introduced into the program.

10. If there are any questions that the Guide cannot answer she refers to her Coordinator.

11. As time progresses further Coordinators will be trained as the network widens, a further video will cater to Coordinator training.

Remember - Divide to Multiply!
Multiplication is better than addition!


‘Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong. Do all your work in love’

1 Corinthians 16: 13 – 14


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