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. 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 and often amuses himself by singing the songs he’s learned and playing with the toys I have accumulated for him and the other 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 they learn 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 at the time 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, the moms are helping to train 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. Although we weren’t prepared to minister to children, not having separate childcare forced me to find a way to include them and that has turned out to be a blessing. We are helping these moms to train their children in the ways of God.
Our 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 the home countries.