Grant Carter labels the books of the Bible during a ‘Learn the Whole Bible ASAP’ lesson. The course, which requires no Biblical knowledge to teach, features 20 lessons that take students through the Bible. Courtesy photo
Tammy Berkman’s goal was to teach the Bible in a simple manner to her children around the kitchen table, using a flipboard and basic drawings. But God used that flipboard and kitchen table as a spring board to take the Bible across the Highland Lakes and around the world.
“The project really belongs to God,” Berkman said, “and I’m really open to however God wants to use it.”
The family kitchen table project, which grew into “Learn the Whole Bible ASAP” workbooks and a teacher key, has reached hundreds of youths as far away as Africa and Central America. It also has helped Highland Lakes educators and parents create a Biblical foundation for their students and children.
Berkman is quick to point out that she’s no Bible scholar and has no seminary or similar training on the subject. In fact, growing up, she really didn’t have much Bible schooling at all. Her first Bible, she recalled, was a high school graduation present.
When she first opened it, Berkman felt overwhelmed, even bewildered. It looked more like Webster’s Dictionary than God’s story.
“It looked way too hard to learn, so I didn’t even try,” Berkman said.
When she and her husband, Larry, had their children, Tammy decided the kids needed a good grounding in the Bible, but she didn’t see any courses that fit her needs. Most classes or programs teach the Bible in chunks — a chapter here, a piece from this section, a lesson from this book. Berkman wanted to teach her kids the Bible as a complete story.
So she pulled out a flipboard, gathered her kids around the breakfast table, and began teaching them God’s story by “writing and drawing a very simple version on a flip chart on the kitchen wall.”
Realizing she had something others could benefit from, Berkman created a teacher key and student workbook. Initially, she envisioned the program being taught in classroom settings, and it has been used in that manner. But parents have also come to see it as a way to teach the Bible to their own children, much like Berkman did.
It doesn’t require any Biblical knowledge on the teacher’s or parent’s part either. The key and workbook lay it all out for them. You just read the teacher key aloud, Berkman said.
The course teaches the Bible as one complete storyline, but it’s broken down into 20 lessons. There are fill-in-the-blank reviews and a multiple choice test after every four lessons, but the instructor provides the answers, and, in the case of the tests, the students yell out the responses all together.
The idea is to make learning the Bible story fun and stress-free, both for the teacher/parent and students.
And Berkman chose to teach the Bible as God’s story on purpose because it helps lay a good foundation for the student. In many programs, she noticed, the Bible is taught in pieces, not necessarily as one, complete story.
“Would you want your favorite novel broken up that way,” she said. “Would you want to learn a novel it if was broken up and taught out of order?”
She compared those methods to a puzzle where the students are trying to put all the pieces together but never get to look at the box which depicts the complete picture.
“Learn the Whole Bible ASAP” provides the complete story and offers students the boxtop view of the Bible.
Berkman acknowledged it’s not an in-depth study of the Bible, but most children need that foundation from which they can build upon. Even adults have found that the program is a great way to reconnect with the entire Biblical storyline.
While she was happy to offer the course for classroom settings such as First Baptist Christian School and Faith Academy of Marble Falls, God apparently had a bigger vision for it.
In 2013, her daughter, Beth Ann Berkman, invited Tammy to go on a mission trip with her to Nairobi, Kenya. During the trip, the two taught the course to about 300 students in five, two-hour sessions. Two years later, they returned and taught it to about 500 children.
In 2017, Beth Ann and Tammy went to Honduras, where they again used the “Learn the Whole Bible ASAP” to teach God’s and his people’s story to more children. One of the students translated the course into Spanish, and Bridget Slyker, a missionary from First Baptist Church of Marble Falls, began teaching it in surrounding villages.
The course has also been translated into Chinese and is taught in an “underground” church and school in China.
“It’s been incredible to watch how God has used this,” Tammy Berkman said. “I consider the project really belongs to God, and I’m open to wherever he wants to use it.”