Assemblies of God Empowered Magazine Kingdom Initiatives - Page 12

CHILDREN'S JAM AFTER SCHOOL A KINGDOM INIATIVE By Naomi Olive, Kids and Youth Ministry Facilitator, Risk Church, Stokes Valley, NZ Like all good initiatives started by God, a vision is given. “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” (Habakkuk 2:2) When we launched JAM (Jesus and Me) on February 4, 2016, an after school ministry aimed at primary and intermediate ages, we had no idea how it was all going to look. But like all things that God has given us, it is growing wonderfully into something that we firmly believe will impact our community for Jesus’ glory. Before the vision to have an after school ministry was launched it had been placed on people’s hearts for a number of years. The community of Stokes Valley, a suburb of Lower Hutt, was crying out for something that would keep kids off the streets and out of mischief. With unchurched kids coming into Kingdom Kids on a Sunday morning it felt like God was really paving the way for an after school ministry. Many of the major problems facing the area were with the youth, and we felt that we needed something that impacted kids before they reached their teens if we were to have a long term effect on the community. At the same time we wanted to continue our Friday nights for youth as well. After a few meetings with various members of the community who wanted to be part of a solution, we quickly discerned that our vision definitely needed to be God led and not community led. So we waited another year to pray, seek the Lord for His plans and purposes for it and put some things in place before we started. As the kids and youth facilitator at Risk 12 | EMPOWERED EMPOWERED MAGAZINE MAGAZINE Church, I presented the vision of an after school ministry at a service mid-year in 2015, and a team was established from those who wanted to serve Jesus in this way. It was made up of about 10 willing volunteers who came together to plan how it could look and deal with some of the nitty gritty of how to get there. We looked at all angles; what we wanted to have available, security and consent measures, while also allowing us to keep the ‘drop in’ aspect of it all. We wrote out our vision as follows: We believe the kids of Stokes Valley community have a plan and purpose for their lives and we want to see them grow and thrive in every area of their journey. We want to give kids in this community an opportunity to encounter God and make informed choices about Christianity. We want them to be uplifted to grow and develop into their potential and purpose, using the gifts and talents that they’ve yet to discover or advance. We want to provide a safe and secure place that offers a variety of opportunities to fulfil this. This stands alongside our church vision: To be and raise a generation that know God, are strong and do exploits. (Daniel 11:32b) We have begun and will continue to add to JAM things like: afternoon tea, where a devotional is shared by one of the team members, art and craft (usually something that ties in with the theme), sports and games, pool, table tennis, ride on bikes, chill zone that is comprised of board games, books, blocks, playdough etc, homework help (although most kids are having too much fun to take advantage of this), writing, poetry, baking, sewing and other skill sharing. Since we started we have seen God’s favour poured out over this ministry, from some funding and finances being released, to people from the community getting involved in offering their gifts and talents. We’ve so far been able to offer dance lessons, drama lessons and music lessons. However, we know there is a lot more to come. The Hutt City Council has shown interest in JAM and provided some support too. While it is not always popular with the community because it is a Christian based centre, we know that God’s plans are for lives to be changed and transformed, and not just to keep kids off the streets. So we make no secret of our vision and purpose, for we know that these kids have a plan and purpose in Jesus. A huge aspect of the vision is to see whole families come to Christ. We see this as a way to connect with families and provide support to those families in need in a variety of ways. This ‘arm’ of the vision is yet to be implemented fully, as we get to know the kids we are working with and their families. The beauty of this venture is that we have seen kids from all walks of life form friendships in ways they might never have had opportunity to do so otherwise. Kids that come from gang affiliated families have a chance to encounter a different way of life found in Jesus, and we believe this will have a flow on effect into their family and in turn, the community. We know that God’s presence is with us, and as parents and caregivers come in, we pray that their hearts will be touched and the Lord will draw them nearer to him. Currently we run one afternoon a week. H