For the past two years Ephrem and our friends over at Roosevelt Community Church have been doing an outreach to neighborhood children. Dennae Pierre, of Roosevelt Community began the outreach over two years ago. She felt a strong desire to reach out to children living downtown. We have been blessed to partner up with their church, several times at Grant Park on Saturdays.
Ephrem and the crew usually meet up around 12pm and walk door to door asking if the children would like to come to the park, for a few hours. On average anywhere between 15-25 children show up. The day usually includes, sports, puppet shows, a gospel presentation/bible lesson and lots of candy! The children have a great time and it also blesses the parents, in that they can have a bit of a break for the afternoon. Many of the members of Roosevelt have built up relationships with these children and pick them up for church every Sunday.
This past Saturday I was able to attend and help out a bit. After allowing the children to play for about an hour we gathered the children up for the bible lesson. Jordan Jacques, led the lesson; explaining to the children what sin is. “The bible says we are dead in our trespasses…I know it looks like we are all alive but if we don’t have Jesus we are kind of like zombies.” He explained to them. He selected a couple of little volunteers and did a presentation, pretending to be zombies.“I don’t want to be a zombie!!!!” Some children began laughing and shouting. Once they understood this analogy Jordan was able to continue and break down the gospel in a way they would understand. From there we prayed for the children and asked if they had any additional prayer requests. The requests included prayer for their dogs, to have fun playing football, and less homework. Haha!
As we went back to playing I was able to speak to a sweet little girl named Diana. “Diana, did you like the lesson? Did you understand it.” I asked. We discussed and then I asked her what she thought about Jesus. “ I think that it was very, very, very nice what he did for me… and I would like to sing songs to him in church.” She said rather sincerely.
The grant park ministry is primarily an outreach to the children, but as mentioned earlier I believe it also reaches the parents of these children. Many of the people who run the grant park outreach have gained relationships with the parents. The parents appreciate the break they get on Saturdays and are able to see how much their children enjoy going each week. Some children have even gotten excited about church and asked their parents to come with them! Every few months Roosevelt also hosts a BBQ where they invite all the parents and families of the children. The day includes food, fellowship and of course some fun activities for the kidos.
Have any ideas about outreach to children? Please post your comments:)