Word&Way News Writer
Each Tuesday when the school bell sounds, Warford Elementary School students rush to the after-school Bible club hosted by members of Grace Point Baptist Church, Kansas City.
The ministry began three years ago as a way to reach out to the community, program director Cindy Brown said. Church attendance was dwindling, so members began searching for ways to connect with the community.
Pastor Kirtes Calvery felt God leading the church to partner with the school and asked Brown to lead the effort. “I thought ‘How are we going to do that?’” Brown said. “But God has provided at every turn.”
When the program started, only a handful of students participated. This year, after 85 students enrolled, the church scaled back the program to focus on second through fifth graders. According to Brown, 35-50 students attend each week.
“We are the face of Jesus to these kids,” Brown said. “Our primary goal is to love them.”
Students are divided into small groups by age and gender. They learn a Bible story, study a memory verse, do music, make crafts and play games. “It’s like a little Sunday School class,” Brown said.
The majority of the students had no affiliation with Grace Point before joining the Bible club. The connection hasn’t ended there, however. Calvery notes that four families have joined the church as a direct result of the school ministry, resulting in seven baptisms.
In addition to the study, church members assemble “snack-packs” for students who are on lunch assistance. Harvesters, a local food distribution program, provides the food for the packs. Students bring a backpack of food home on Fridays and return the packs on Mondays.
One mother, an immigrant from Asia, presented Calvery with a letter after telling him her family will be moving away. Her children are in the Bible club and receive the snack-packs each week. She prefaced the note by saying her English grammar is not always correct.
“Thank you so much for serving children in school through Bible Club, and thank you and your church that provide foods every Friday,” she wrote. “Whenever we get the foods we feel happy by eating your love and feeling God’s love! I have learned many (things) through your loving heart for people and serving community.”
Brown believes showing love is an essential part of what the club does. “It does not do a bit of good to talk about God’s love,” she said. “We have to display it.”
The love displayed to students keeps them coming back. Often other school activities meet at the same time as Bible club. Brown told of one student who rushed from her other activity to her Bible club class announcing “I’m here!” There were only five minutes left before the end of the club, but the student wanted to make sure she was a part.
The club hasn’t been without obstacles, Brown said, “but God has provided daily manna” (God’s way of providing food for the wandering israelites) to meet each need as it arose.
She thanks a praying church and a supportive school administration for the programs success.
“Grace Point Baptist Church is doing something that I know God smiles upon,” Calvery said.