Karen is a wife, mother, and GiGi. She and her husband David are the founders of Kidz Konnect 4 Jesus, a long-term ministry focused on making disciples and growing meaningful, Christ based relationships between US & Canadian Churches and Belizean villages (schools, churches and communities). They have lived in the Stann Creek district of Belize for the past nine years.
I have had the privilege to serve as a kid’s ministry leader stateside and for the past several years in Belize, Central America. Serving in Belize is really very similar to serving in the states yet very different. Lost souls are lost souls no matter the country of origin, gender, social status, or skin color. We see young hearts yearning and searching for love, safety, acceptance, and hope in a world that seems to have lost its rhythm. Innocence stolen for sexual gratification. Promises are made only to be broken. Family as God intended collapse every day at alarming rates. Social media allows one to become whomever and whatever they choose or to be bullied to the point of suicide. Kids have been forced to become adults in many homes, caring for younger brothers and sisters due to the drug and alcohol epidemic. People are evicted from homes to streets overflowing with gang violence and prostitution. Poverty and domestic violence wait each day at the end of school. Kids cannot concentrate because of hunger or lack of sleep and are labeled learning-challenged or just no good. These scenarios can describe any village, neighborhood, or people group in the world today.
Until recent years, kid’s ministry in Belizean churches was nearly nonexistent. When I would tell people, I was a kid’s minister they would need for me to explain. Also, being a female in a leadership role in the church did not help my cause. Typically, the pastor of a church here Belize is bi- or tri-vocational and has little, if any, formal training. Unfortunately, personal interpretation and cultural concepts have become intertwined with gospel truth. The pastor’s wife normally would lead Sunday school. Again, without training and typically lacking Bibles and resources. Bondage to human error and interpretation have resulted in kids learning that salvation is earned and can be lost if they sin. Therefore, any hope for eternal life is placed on the individual while the love, mercy, and grace of the cross has been tossed out the window like dirty dishwater. (FYI that’s how you get rid of dirty dishwater when you don’t have plumbing.)
Ten years ago, the Lord opened the door for Kidz Konnect 4 Jesus to hold large group worship sessions based solely on gospel truth in schools! It is fall-down-on-your-face humbling to look out and see 400 precious dark-skinned faces in thin tattered uniforms excited to worship Jesus as only kids can and to soak in the truth of the gospel. No production is needed…just showing up week after week makes Jesus real to our kids. I wish I could tell you there have been hundreds of salvations and that the road traveled has been easy but that would not be truth.
However, churches are beginning to understand the Biblical importance of kid’s ministry and volunteers are being trained and are passionate about their calling to serve kids. We certainly give God all the praise and glory! It has been our prayer to walk in surrendered obedience and we have tried, failed, cried, and rejoiced!
The following are a few lessons learned along the way:
- Pray, pray, pray! Waiting patiently on the Lord!
- Be authentic in your personal walk with the Lord and the kids will follow your lead. They will discover what biblical love and surrender is meant to look like.
- ALWAYS teach from the Bible making sure they understand that Jesus is the thread that connects everything. That salvation can only come through our faith in his death and resurrection. Teach it at every opportunity and then some! The kids are relieved to know that Jesus did this for them…the least of these. How awesome to be lavished in the hope, mercy, and grace of the Triune. The debt has been paid!
- Memorize, memorize, memorize Gods word. They may not be able to read or have access to a Bible, but God’s word forever placed in their heart is their counter attack to the lies of the world.
- Humanitarian aid provides relief, the gospel provides healing and hope.
- Rest…you and I are not responsible for the outcome. God’s got this!
In conclusion, keep it gospel-centered and simple. I recently read a quote by a Scottish minister, “(Jesus) is not just a dying savior, he is a doing savior. When we believe in him, we do not just get the benefits of his death. It is not just that our sins are forgiven, but we also get the benefits of his obedience.” That means his righteousness is credited to us as well as his sacrifice. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, it says: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” I pray and praise for the grace to continue to dance to the perfect rhythm of our Good, Good Father!