3 Amazing Outreaches That Share God’s Love With the Hurting
Published: June 6, 2011
Discover these 3 effective ministry outreaches that reach urban children, families, and ex-inmates
Where is Jesus? He is with the neediest of all of us—and he invites us to minister to him through these needy people. Jesus said in Matthew 25:35: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Children’s Ministry Magazine searched for ministries that are doing just that, and we found three outreaches we want you to know about.
Inner City Outreach
Urban ministries have unique challenges, especially when it comes to reaching children. In Denver, Colorado, The Third Story meets those challenges in reaching out to at-risk inner-city youth. The Third Story desires that an urban church be a refuge and sanctuary in the true sense of the word. For that purpose, they have three branches: the Third Story Press, West Side Ministries, and the Third Story Sound Lot.
The Third Story Press is a print-media ministry that was founded with “West Side Stories,” a series of vignettes focusing on urban life and issues facing children growing up in inner-city neighborhoods. By presenting thoughtful insights in story form six times a year, the Press spreads awareness of issues that face individuals on a daily basis. Its goal is to advocate justice for social causes.
West Side Ministries (WSM) is an umbrella for many smaller programs that meet the physical and academic needs of children while giving spiritual guidance.
Street Church, Whiz Kids Tutoring, the Concrete Conservatory, The EDGGe, and more were all individually conceived but tie in to the urban needs of the community. Many children must be fed before they can learn about Jesus.
Street Church is a neighborhood outreach. This weekly after-school club focuses on elementary-aged children. Each group is run by six to eight volunteers who build relationships with the children through a club setting of active Bible learning, memory verses, games, crafts, and group-building activities. Every staff member participates in the kids’ assembly time. After assembly everyone moves into small groups. Many children aren’t able to participate in traditional Sunday school, yet through this ministry they learn from God’s Word. This year they’re studying Micah 6:8 and what it means to actively follow Jesus.
Whiz Kids Tutoring
For those who need help with their schoolwork, Whiz Kids Tutoring is an everyday blessing. As a citywide ministry with more than 40 sites and close to 700 volunteer tutors, it’s Denver Public School’s largest after-school study hall. A Denver Public School teacher and an onsite coordinator staff each site. Tutoring is an opportunity for a volunteer to focus on the needs of one child, first grade through fifth grade, with weekly sessions throughout the school year. The tutor’s goal is to challenge his or her student both spiritually and academically. Tutors and students participate together in a Bible assembly after tutoring.
WSM’s latest addition is the Concrete Conservatory. When Denver Public Schools were forced to end all in-school music programs due to budget cuts, this outreach was founded to make up for the hole left in local kids’ education. Basically a music camp for neighborhood children, the Concrete Conservatory teaches everything from theory to notation and gives instruction on the Recorder. It was named for their meeting location on front stoops, back porches…anywhere! This community is about much more than music and has proven to be a special opportunity. Presently the Concrete Conservatory runs throughout the summer at different neighborhood locations.
The EDGGe (Everything Done to the Glory of God) is a threefold program for discipleship, mentoring, and service. Seventh- through 12th-graders serve in their communities but also to become spiritual leaders. The long-term vision is to encourage young men and women to become adult men and women who choose to live their lives for the glory of God. Adult leaders in EDGGe must have one previous year of urban service and be involved in an urban ministry where the program is in place. Volunteers have a responsibility to nurture the students and in return enforce standards that kids must meet.
Through all these outreaches, WSM’s intent and primary hope is to bring at-risk urban children and their families into a healing relationship with Jesus Christ. They equip volunteers to assist the urban church in implementing these important programs.
The Third Story Sound Lot is based on the songwriting and stories of Amy Beth Augustin Barlow, composer and pianist. Like the Press, one of Sound Lot’s goals is to educate listeners about the realities and needs in the inner-city neighborhoods by sharing their stories. Sound Lot also uses story and song to invite listeners to consider the call of the gospel.
To learn more about these ministries, visit www.thethirdstory.org.
The Church of the Holy Communion in Memphis, Tennessee, can truly be called a church with a heart for families. There are several prongs to their parent-child ministries, and all of them are available to area families. Their mission statement includes the declaration that “our outreach ministry will bring us together in common effort to improve quality of life and sense of community. We will use our collective resources to create opportunities for all to live with dignity, respect, purpose, hope, and love.”
Their opportunities for parents and children:
Bright Spaces is a project to provide for homeless children. It offers unique, educational, nurturing environments to preschoolers. The approach is groundbreaking because it encourages academic progress as a means of developing skills for success in school and life.
The Center for Children and Parents
The Center for Children and Parents provides services to strengthen families. The center provides parenting education so children can be spared abuse and neglect. Through education, families can learn to live together and look to the Lord.
Kids for Christ
Kids for Christ is an active, kid-friendly program. The outreach aims to give the families and children of Frayser, Tennessee, Bible study, music, crafts, reading programs, sports, and scouting. These activities draw in kids and create the time needed for relationships founded in love.
Special Kids and Families, Inc.
Special Kids and Families, Inc. was founded in 1986 when parents of children with developmental delays formed a group to help families like themselves reach their full potential. This program now addresses the unique challenges of all young children. Church of the Holy Communion provides meeting space and recruits volunteers.
Like to learn more? Visit www.holycommunion.org.
There’s a stigma against people who’ve been in prison, and women who are ex-inmates are likely to have had little education or job experience. What options do they have when they return to their children? Second Genesis, in Little Rock, Arkansas, reunites mothers with their families after serving time in prison. Jeanne Coyne, the first female chaplain in the state, founded Second Genesis.
How can women transition into being independent caretakers when so much is uncertain? “We try to create a positive community for them. By nature, people want to hang out with somebody,” says Cynthia Martin, director of Second Genesis.
By enrolling in Second Genesis, women have a healthy support to turn to instead of the influences that put them away in the first place. Otherwise, women battle drug and alcohol addictions and stay in abusive relationships because they can’t afford to survive on their own.
The program’s results are admirable. Only nine percent of women enrolled in Second Genesis become repeat offenders, compared to 35 percent of all other paroled women. “We go into prisons to build relationships with women while they are still serving their sentence. Our board members are part of the Kairos ministry, which means they can begin to tell prisoners about us,” says Martin. Women eligible for parole who need an address can list Second Genesis.
Success stories testify to the importance of this ministry. Arkansas Baptist News shares Michelle Holt’s story, a released prisoner at age 27 and single mother of five daughters. Four of her daughters no longer live with her. But, thanks to Second Genesis, she’s reunited with her youngest, a 6-year-old. Holt lives in the apartment buildings and teaches her daughter all about God.
“Even though I was not going to church, I knew he was there. He didn’t leave me; I left him. I know some of my family were praying for me…[Second Genesis] helps women like me who have come out of prison to rebuild our strength not only in ourselves but also in God.”
To learn more about this program, visit www.secondgenesis.com.
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