Loving the children Jesus loves
When I began working with foreign, English-speaking women on parole, I had no idea the work would include ministering to children. But when several women brought their children to the Bible study and we couldn’t provide child care, we had to get creative. This meant finding a way to incorporate the children into the Sunday lessons.
Last month we started a new series using free resources provided through New City Catechism. These lessons are perfect for our group since they include simple children’s songs, and singing is a great way to learn biblical truth. The other day, I had to smile watching little Sam* dance as he sang, “What is God? God is the creator of everyone and everything.” This adorable three-year-old loves to come to "Aunt Mary’s house" and often amuses himself by singing the songs he’s learned and playing with the toys I have accumulated for the children. His tender heart accepts without question the truth about who God is. This is so refreshing and heart-warming.
Presently, three of the women attending Bible study have children. As the women soak in biblical truth, they’re also learning how to pass it on to their children. These mothers have childhood stories filled with tears. Claire* suffered verbal and emotional abuse as a child. While in a violent relationship, she had a daughter. She now lives with another man who is also abusive. She struggles with mental health issues and substance abuse.
Abby* was removed from her drug-addicted mother and taken to a strict, Christian foster home where she heard the gospel and attended Sunday School. On weekends she returned to visit her birth mom.
Betty’s* father, a warm kind man, was removed from the family home because of his involvement with Communism. Eight years old at the time of her father’s leaving, Betty was left in the care of a sickly, abusive mother. When the mother died, Betty was sent to live with an aunt who took what little money the family had and made Betty the family slave.
For these women, difficult childhoods have led to destructive life habits. By learning the Bible along with their children, these moms are training their children to avoid making the same bad decisions that landed them in multiple difficulties, and ultimately, in prison.
Sometimes in ministry we never know exactly how things will unfold. Our original goal is to give the women a solid Christian foundation that will enable them to continue to grow in Christ and get established in a church when they return to their home countries. Although we weren’t prepared to minister to children, not having separate childcare forced me to find a way to include the — and that has turned out to be a blessing. We are helping these moms to train their children in the ways of God.
Ask God how you might minister to open hearts like these women in Peru. Can you pray, give or serve alongside us? Contact your nearest SIM office today to find out how you can get involved.