If you grew up attending church in the 80’s and 90’s chances are you may have been apart of an AWANA program. AWANA is a children’s program created by Art Rorheim in the 1920’s and 30’s at a time when most churches only offered Sunday school as a program for teaching children about God. This new program was created as a “Christian version of Boy Scouts” but really became a dynamic program for developing children into a relationship with God by providing solid teaching alongside games, excitement, and fun.
AWANA stands for “Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed” as taken from 2 Timothy 2:15″
I remember attending Sparkies as a child which was one of the levels of AWANA it was so much fun to memorize verses and to be able to earn badges for my uniform. I remember looking forward to Wednesday nights to go to AWANA! Founded as a resource for churches wanting to add a dynamic children program, AWANA grew into an international organization that became more than just a children’s program, but also teen programs, adult curriculum, and missions. A lesser-known fact about Mr. Rorheim’s life is that he also helped inspire and encourage the Founder Steve Curington of another organization called RU Recovery Ministries which is a Faith-Based Addiction Recovery program. The influence of Mr. Rorheim’s life in both children and adults is incalculable.
Art Rorheim is quoted as saying,
“You know, kids are the same the world over, they respond to those who love them.”
And he also knew they liked to have fun. Retiring as executive director in 1990 he then served as Awana president until 1999 before assuming the role of co-founder/president emeritus.
Mr. Rorheim was born May 7, 1918 to Norwegian immigrants who eventually settled in Chicago near the future site of the North Side Gospel Center, the church where Awana would be born. He placed his faith in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior at age 10. Art Rorheim, the founder of AWANA Clubs International, passed into eternity on January 5, 2018; just 4 months shy of his 100th birthday.
Details about the service can be found at http://artrorheim.org.