Homelessness, poverty, imprisonment: these are big issues that affect people in South Carolina. How can these be eliminated? These big problems are often the result of a lack of education. If a child cannot read, he is at-risk to become a statistic as an adult. Research has shown, however, that getting a child on reading level by third grade is often an indication of success. South Carolina Baptist churches are reaching out to schools in their communities to help the children become successful.
The Heart4Schools initiative, a part of the South Carolina Baptist Convention Evangelism Team and a recipient of Janie Chapman Offering funds, encourages churches to reach their communities through partnerships with schools.
Myrtle Beach First Baptist Church has enlisted church members to serve as reading buddies at schools. They act as a mentor to read with the children. Don Hansen, minister of music at the church tells about the confidence that the mentored children show as they gain success in reading.
Benefits go both ways in the mentoring program with the volunteers finding satisfaction as well. “Mr. Tony,” a widower in his seventies, was skeptical when he became a second grade reading buddy. It was not long, however, before he developed a special relationship with the entire class. When he had to take a leave of absence from the program, the children in the class simultaneously rushed forward to tell him goodbye.
“Mr. Tony” developed a special relationship with the class where he volunteered, so much so that the children rushed to tell him goodbye when he had to step away from the program for a while.
Charleston First Baptist has set up a Mission Outpost near the school where parents, children and teens can play games and hear stories every Wednesday night. “Nathan” and his family began coming to the Outpost not long after the father had been released from prison. They have been active in attending and bringing others. About a year after he started working with a mentor, Nathan accepted Jesus as his Savior.
Cedar Creek Baptist Church in Aiken has taken another direction to interact with the schools. Pastor Phillip Lee challenged his church to bring paper to supply the local schools, who never have enough paper. The brought in more than 12 million sheets of paper which supplied each school with an abundance of paper.
One group at Cedar Creek serves teachers by remembering them on their birthdays. This has opened doors for relationships and an opportunity to pray for needs that the teachers have. Due to the fact that ninety per cent of a community is connected in some way to a school, it makes sense to serve schools and reach students and their families.
- If parents are struggling to make enough money to support their family, how could that affect the children?
- How do you think it would affect South Carolina, if children were mentored and encouraged to learn and grow in school?
- That God will lead churches to establish Reading Buddy programs and to adopt local schools.
- That God will open doors with families that lead to spiritual conversations.
Part of the 2017 Season of Prayer for the Janie Chapman Offering.