Church meets local school needs

Coastlands Baptist Church is a small church in Burnie, north-west Tasmania. Towards the end of 2005 the church began discussing how it could be more missional and relevant in today’s society. After prayerful consideration it was decided that Kids Hope was one of the ways this could be achieved.Kids Hope Australia (KHA) is a World Vision mentoring program which involves a local church partnering with a local school. Each mentor works with one child for one hour a week, supported by one prayer partner.

A member of the church, Mrs Maree Watts, had felt that God was stirring her to work with broken, hurting people in society, and successfully applied for the position of coordinator! To be able to fund this as a small church, it was agreed to allocate one day of the pastor’s stipend to the KHA coordinator. Maree trained at World Vision in Melbourne and, after interviewing and training mentors from within the church, as well as liaising with school staff, the program was implemented at Montello Primary School, a public school in the church’s suburb.

Each week 15 mentors participate in the program. Maree says “At times I have felt totally out of my depth but have constantly reminded myself of Matthew 25:45 ‘Because you have done it to the least of these you have done it to me.’ I have also felt the power of prayer from the church, my prayer partner and especially my husband who is a constant source of encouragement.”

Maree works with a five year old girl who comes from a dysfunctional family. She says “Two weeks ago when I arrived at the school, she jumped into my arms and said she knew I was coming today because she had been working out the days of the week, and knew it was Thursday!” Awesome! Another mentor said his little boy didn’t want to complete any school work. When the boy said he wanted to be a builder, the mentor said builders have to be good at maths, spelling and reading in order to follow plans. This approach impacted the life of this little boy. His teacher reported her amazement at the dramatic improvement in his attitude and approach to learning.

What an amazing, awesome God we serve! Praise God for this amazing privilege we have to mentor in secular education. Through our involvement with KHA, we have become even more aware of the needy children who are struggling because of a difficult home life, or difficulty in learning or coping with school (and life).

A wonderful relationship has also developed with the school Principal and staff, who are asking questions such as “Why are you doing this? Why would you give up one hour every week to spend with a struggling child?” This has led us to look at other ways to deepen the relationship between the church and the school. We recently made a donation to the schools welfare fund to be used to help students in need and the church is now planning to take morning tea to the school to honour the 30 staff after the next term holidays.

“Kids Hope”, by Graeme Goninon, Coastlands Pastor. prac7.