CHENNAI, India (BNc) — Samuel, who is 7 years old, can recite Psalm 119 in its entirety, all 176 verses.

samuelBeth Johnson had given her class a memory-work assignment of learning Psalm 119 during the 2008-09 school year. The intention was that they would learn it in sections and recite each section separately. Can you imagine Beth’s surprise when Samuel came in before the year was half over and recited Psalm 119:1-176 in its entirety?

Psalm 119 emphasizes the importance of God’s word. In the original it is an acrostic poem with each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet being the initial letter of 8 verses in the successive sections.

bethdennisjohnsonBeth teaches about 20 students between the ages of 6 and 12. About half are children of teachers or students of the Chennai Teacher Training School and half are from a nearby village. Rather than taking time in Bible class for the children to say their memory work, Beth has them come after services on Sunday and on Wednesday nights. She often spends as much as an hour after services at this. Some children even show up after school on week-days to say verses, and she is happy to listen anytime. The children also take notes during services and show Beth their notes afterwards.

Dennis and Beth Johnson have worked in India off and on since 1968.
From 1968 to 1970 they worked in Chennai (Madras), where they helped to set up the Chennai Teacher Training School.
From 1970 to 1974 they worked with the church in Anderson, South Carolina.
In October of 1976 they went to Sri Lanka. After a short time, they moved to India where they worked in a village called Tiruchi, south of Chennai, until 1980.
chennaiDuring three more periods they have worked with the school in Chennai (Madras): 1985-1989, 1991-1996, and 2002 to the present, sponsored by the Hillcrest congregation in Stephenville, Texas.

The Chennai Teacher Training School offers a three-year preacher training course. Students take classes for 6 hours a day, five days a week. Instruction is given in Telegu, Tamil and English. The school has been in operation since 1965.