PLAINVIEW – Dr. Peter Bowen, professor of psychology at Wayland Baptist University, has been approved for a micro-sabbatical this summer in order to study child psychology in Kenya, Africa.
Dr. Bowen will be teaching a general psychology course as part of Wayland’s course offerings at the Kenya Baptist Theological College in July. While there, Bowen will spend some extra time in order to conduct research that will aid in the development of materials for ministry to Kenya children.
It has been nearly five years since Bowen taught a class in Kenya, but it was that experience that sparked an interest.
“One student wrote his term paper looking at child development,” Bowen said. “The introduction of the paper basically said he didn’t know of anything in Kenya where anybody has ever thought about child development in regard to church work. He went through his paper talking about some of the major developmental characteristics of children. That has always kind of stuck with me.”
As Bowen started preparing for his return trip, he began thinking more about the situation. The prospect of learning more about child development in a country with a large orphan population intrigued him.
Bowen has held off on making specific plans concerning his research until he can do more reading in order to better determine what specific areas to target and what questions to ask. While there he will make several day trips to Nairobi which is near the KTBC campus at Brackenhurst. He will also have time for one extended trip at which time he plans to visit a more remote part of the country.
His specific point of interest surrounds orphans and how they adapt and deal with experiences. Bowen said nearly 10 percent of the population of children under the age of 18 in Kenya is orphans.
Economic, health and cultural conditions are all different for Kenya children as opposed to children form the United States. Therefore, Bowen suggests that simply exporting children’s ministry plans to Kenya may not be an effective way to reach the children.
“How are we going to be able to minister to these kids?” Bowen asks. “What kind of emotional and social questions will these kids have? How does that relate to the types of Bible stories that are chosen and the types of applications that you bring out?”
Bowen, who teaches a kindergarten Sunday School class at First Baptist Church in Plainview, said it will be interesting to not only research the situations in regard to Kenyan children, but to take a long look at our own culture and how it relates.
“What does that say about the types of lessons we derive for our own children?” Bowen said.
Bowen, his wife Lynette and two sons, Ryan, age 10, and Jeremy, 7, will leave for Kenya on July 3 and return July 30.