English for Kids 2019: Challenges Galore!
by Linda Taylor, New Life OPC, Williamsport, PA (September 2019)
"Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?" Hebrews 1:14 (ESV)
The first invite came five or six years ago from a member in our church; “Won’t you join with me and another to go to Quebec to serve at an English for Kids Bible Camp?” Me: "No interest." The second year the same request was made by a handful of people going. Me: “No, I can’t do this. I’m not comfortable around big groups. Besides, I’m in my sixties and don’t have that kind of energy.”
The third invite was presented to our church along with pictures from the previous year. One of the pictures depicted a group sitting along the walls of a hallway, with paper plates in their laps. It was explained that there was no table or area large enough to sit on chairs or in a group in the provided lodgings. After being with the children all day, the group came home, shopped, and prepared their meal. Conviction! Me: “I can cook. I’m not intimidated by cooking for large groups.” So I volunteered.
English for Kids
Our group goes to OP Missionary Ben Westerveld’s church (Église réformée St-Marc) in Quebec City, Quebec. We volunteer for the first of three weeks of "English for Kids" Bible Camp (a.k.a. "E4K"), one of the church’s outreach programs to their neighborhood. Children arrive each day at 8:00 am and leave at 5:00 pm, and the week concludes with a picnic to which parents are invited, and the closing exercises. English is taught to these French-speaking children using a Bible theme. This year our theme was the book of Jonah. Children are taught in class, by memorizing Bible verses, by learning fun songs, and in activities.
I have gone for four years now, and facilitated daily lunch and dinner for 15-25 and daily snacks for 60 kids for a week. Challenges galore! Cabinets with pots and pans meant for six, not 20 (I learned to take my own). Food allergies to milk, gluten, potatoes, nuts, cherries, kiwi, peppers, etc. One must work around them. Grocery shopping in another country for a week's worth of food. Five grocery carts worth! I had to put it all before our Lord and ask for His support and creativity. God blessed me in each area, and I even had opportunity to witness to all the grocery store cashiers who were very curious about our purpose there. Of course the tee shirt I wore helped as they are bright in color and have our weekly Bible verse printed on back. Not the typical tee-shirt in Quebec, a mostly unchurched province.
I learned that God enables those He calls. I am learning to serve, to be a helper behind the scenes. It has freed up the teachers to focus on their lessons and to be able to have some free time in the evenings to refresh themselves. It was difficult at first to not “feel” a part of the group, but when I saw and heard what a blessing this was to the teaching volunteers, I felt a part of it all. It glorifies God.
Your God-Given Talents
Are you like me, reluctant to reach out? Feel you are too old? Is there some other reason that restrains you? I urge you to think creatively and see how you can serve using your God-given talents. Are you an artist? There are many opportunities to create banners, posters, crafts, etc. Do you cook? Prepared meals are a boon to the volunteers, and the kids love snacks. Are you musical? We have music leaders who could always use an assistant. Do you sew? Kids love simple costumes! All short-term mission programs, not just E4K, need “behind the scenes“ helpers.
Be challenged as Mordecai challenged Esther. "For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for (short-term missions) from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14 (ESV)
Next time an opportunity arises, instead of saying no, ask, “Do I see any way I could use my gifts?" Then trust that God will enable you. He will!