Volunteer teaching Bible lessons for teenagers

“Can’t serve God and Mammon, which one is it?” Rosanna Fau asks her class of about 20 teenagers.

“Matthew 6:24,” they answer.

“In as much as you have done it unto the least of my brothers...” she says. “Where is it found?”

Silence.

“Matthew 25:40,” one kid says to laughs after cheating and looking at his card with the answers.

Sounds like a typical Sunday-school class.

The only thing is that Fau teaches it every weekday at 6 a.m.

Fau, 25, from Independence, is a volunteer teacher for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ seminary program. The worldwide program teaches scriptures to high school students for an hour before they go to school.

“It’s a program that helps make kids more knowledgeable about Gospel principles, and will help them with everyday questions in their lives,” she said. “I teach them things they can apply to everyday life: serving others, questions about dating, all the things they’re going through in high school. Basically, I try to apply the gospel in ways to let them know I’m talking to them and am connecting with them.

Fau wakes up at 5 a.m. to prepare the lesson and drive to class.

“It’s hard. Sometimes I want to give up,” Fau said. “Then I think about how (the students) never give up... It’s hard, but it’s worth it.”

Besides teaching scriptures to eager young minds, Fau is a full-time student at UMKC where she is majoring in secondary education, and works full-time at U.S. Bank.

“It’s pretty hard because I go on 4-5 hours of sleep, but my body is used to it now,” she said. “I’m motivated every day by my kids. The fact that they get up at 6 every morning and are more than willing to learn. I think about them and it keeps me going.”

Fau has taught seminary for about two years. She knows firsthand how hard it is to keep teenagers awake, let alone attentive at such an early hour.

“There are times when they’re not all really awake...” she said. “I can’t do the same thing every day. Sometimes I’ll have them go into a group and explain what is in a scripture I chose, or do fun activities like Pictionary. Sometimes when it’s a topic that’s really interesting, they’ll slowly wake up. Some days it doesn’t work, but I keep asking questions and hope it enters their heart.”

The students say that while it is sometimes difficult to make it to class, it’s worth their while to attend.

“It’s hard to come here because it’s cold, and it’s 6 (o’clock),” one student said. “But it’s great, it prepares us for the trials and tribulations of the day.”

“It makes me happier during the day, and keeps me calm throughout the day,” said another.

This semester the class is learning about the New Testament. Fau devotes half her lesson to studying a few Bible chapters a day, and the other half to scripture mastery, where the students memorize a list of chosen verses.

She tries to engage the students by keeping the atmosphere light.

“What can we take with us when we die?” she asks the students. “Your cell phones? You think you’ll be textin’ in heaven?”

“Maybe,” one student says with a laugh.

 Fau said she likes being a seminary teacher because she thinks the program does a lot of good.

“They’re all the same age and they’re all going through the same problems. It brings them together because it’s a time when they know they have friends in class, where they won’t be judged, and they’ll be noticed,” she said. “They’re learning together, their questions are being answered. It’s not questions their parents answer, but it’s each other answering questions.”

The students are the main reason Fau does what she does.

“I do it because I want to. I want to help kids and be there for them, know what they’re going through, let them know that someone loves them, will be there for them and help them,” she said. “I love my kids...”