“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these”
Jesus, Matthew 19:14 NIV
Like many of you, I love this Scripture. There is a crisp simplicity to the words of Jesus, labeled with a big ‘do not’ that deserves attention, with a rock-our-world reality tagged on... YES! All things said, this is a Scripture to ‘open up the doors, and let the music play, let the children come!’...
Looking over the BajMission blogs and social-media posted from the last few years, it would easy to miss a big aspect of our ministry in Mexico. With the large focus on the ‘Star Seamstresses’ and the Sewing Outreaches to the community, it’s possible to think that the vast majority of outreach efforts and our teaching-discipling platforms involve only women, spools of thread, bobbins, and fabric.
Well... as is true with lower-socio-economic areas, doing any activity means the women always have kids in tow. Kids. Lots of kids. The neighbor’s kids (they swap entire kid-packs to get things done, especially in emergencies or urgent matters). The extended-family’s kids (many single daughters with children living with mom). The kids who are currently on extended visit with them (typical Mexican cultural life means a woman with kids travels from the other side of Mexico for a visit... a two- or three-month-kind-of visit...).
Kidz. Lots of kids.
As well, the Baja Mexico education system uses a very fluid schedule. Fluid, like... school today, but oh! Tomorrow cancelled! Opps, scheduled vacation dates changed! Short day tomorrow (first notice), the teachers are being called to Ensenada for a meeting (notice when you arrive to drop off our children)... absolute craziness for all the parents involved.
SO, besides the volume of kids factored into the change-on-a peso-coin schedule, women coming to the Sewing Outreach have to bring kids... lots of them.
Babysitting at home, you say? Not possible in a poor village setting.
Lori has worked diligently over the last decade of Sewing Outreaches in San Vicente to build a Kidz Ministry that is way bigger than a glorified child-care corner. She realized long ago that these women, handling a half-dozen kidz on most days, with ages easily spanning 6 months to 14 yrs old... that the only way they (the women) can learn how to make a straight stitch on a machine is to NOT have the children about, being those children are a constant flow of need and issues.
Lori also has felt from the Lord the ‘nudge’ that kids at the Outreach means an opportunity for them to hear about Jesus and His Kingdom while having some fun... (maybe this should be titled Kidz Outreach...?). Many of the homes these kids come from are NOT following the Lord or plugged into any Church...
SO, Lori has built quite the elaborate system for Kidz Ministry during the Sewing Outreach. Along with the visionary participation of a couple local Churches, this ministry has been staffed with 2 to 4 people over the last few Sewing Outreaches.
Lori has well-equipped the Kidz Outreach. There are dedicated ‘Easy-Up tents, separate from the Sewing area. There are puzzles, make-and-take crafts, games and activities. Ministry interns from the Churches have brought extensive colouring sheets.
A growing area for the Kidz Ministry has been Kidz worship. We’ve incorporated a box of ‘kidz praise-rhythm’ hand-made items from the Kidz Church we planted in the colonia Granjas (south-west of Tijuana) back in 1996. We’ve made song-lyric posters that feature many well-loved Mexican ‘Sunday School’ kidz tunes. Also, one of the Mex churches’ worship leaders (Pablo) has participated, bringing a solid guitar and boundless energy to the songs. This April 2019 outreach, we went a notch higher, with 2-to-4 times-a-day song/worship times, with your truly ( ;-) ) adding to the joyful noise. There were challenges in getting un-churched kidz ‘into’ the songs and lyrics, but... hey.
The past few Outreaches, we were also blessed to have an experienced Kids’ pastor, Mayra, who affiniates to the little ones in diapers and kept the colouring station flowing.
Oh, yes, there were cookies... any Kidz Outreach in Mexico means cookies...
This last outreach lasted 5 days; we had a total of 39 kid-visits in that period of time, over half previously un-churched.
The women who come to the Outreach are getting linked-up with the Star Seamstresses, all who live in that Village, and are helping bridge the un-churched moms into a friendship that can lead them to one of the congregations in the Village.
Kidz... Kidz Outreach... Kidz coming... “let ‘em come! Hey, here’s Jesus! Jump up on His lap! He’s the coolest, fun-est, most awesome-est, safest person in the Universe”.
Open up the doors... let the (noisy) music play (Bang! Bang! Clank! Go the tambourines) ... let the (kidz tent) be filled with chaotic, loud, happy, joyful-noise singing...
Your bro, Chris-->