**This post was written by Glenys Nellist. She’s the Coordinator of Children’s Ministry at the West Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church. Learn how you can submit an idea to our website.
Last year I met Sierra. She is 8 years old. Sierra lives in a tiny house with her three older siblings. Her mother is an alcoholic. Her father is an illegal immigrant, living under the constant threat of deportation. Sierra is in 3rd grade, but her reading is at Kindergarten level. She struggles because English is not her native language. She does not like school, because she finds it hard to learn. Even though her home and school are in the inner city, you could say that this little girl lives in a desert, a desert that is dry and parched, a desolate place where there is very little to look forward to.
Except on Wednesdays. Because on Wednesdays, she gets to visit our church, her little oasis in the desert, where she is met with love, and smiles; where she is fed, and tutored; where she gets to hear about Jesus, and learns that there truly are good people in the world.
Sierra is one of 30 lucky children who are fortunate enough to participate in our Community Ministries Program. Funded partly by our church, and partly by grants from various organizations, this program is a life-line for so many children in our community. Maybe your church is not in a position to offer such a program, but every church should be able to do something to impact the lives of the children around them. Because there are Sierras living in your community too.
If your church is not currently engaged in ministry with local children, or local schools, prayerfully consider exploring some of the following options:
1. Set up a meeting with the school Principal, to find out areas of need that your church may be able to help with.
2. Establish a Prayer Group, to pray for the children and teachers.
3. Collect winter wear clothing at church for your school children.
4. Have members of your church tutor in school, or arrange to have tutoring at church.
5. Begin an After School Program at church, just one day a week.
6. At Christmas, organize a gift shop, made up of articles donated by your church, where children can come and choose and wrap gifts for their family.
7. In September, organize a Back to School Barbecue. Hand out backpacks filled with school supplies.
If your church were to adopt at least one of these ideas, think what a tremendous impact it would have on the children and parents in your community. Establish a relationship with your local school. It may just be like planting a flower in the desert of a little child’s life.