Mindy Falls talks about how she began serving in Taylors Children and what it means to her.
Camp in the City was an awesome experience for all of our kids, even the one who is too old to go to camp! For our ten-year-old twins, it was their first camp experience. Neither of them care to spend the night away from home, so a camp where they got to come home every night was perfect. At the time we had a foster child living with us and CITC was his opportunity to see young adults living out their faith in Christ. The love and compassion shown to him was AMAZING! All of the camp counselors took extra time and effort to meet his needs and really show the unconditional love that Christ has for each of us.
As a host home, we had the privilege of ministering to three female camp counselors. We chose female counselors because our twins are girls and would be attending camp. They were mostly at our house to sleep, shower and eat breakfast except for one night. That night, they spent time with our family having dinner and playing games. On another night, the whole family was able to go to a swimming party for the counselors and host families. It was at this party that our oldest, Zach, age seventeen, was impacted by the counselors.
He is almost as old as some of the counselors and being able to interact with those young adults and seeing them proud of their Christianity and walk with Christ made quite an impact. In fact, Zach requested that we host male counselors next year so he has a little more time to interact with and learn from them!
-CITC host family in 2014 and planning to host male counselors in 2015
Why did you choose to work with such a young age when some would say they are too young to learn?
Lin: “Perhaps, but never too young to love on them! To be able to provide a safe place of care for our precious little ones so their parents can worship and fellowship with that confidence is important.”
How did this impact you?
Lin: “It has always my joy to have the opportunity of investing spiritual truths into the lives of precious young children and then experience the privilege of watching them mature with those truths.”
What stories do you have of how the study of missionaries/missions has impacted preschoolers?
Lin: “For me to watch how God has worked in the lives of children who were born here at Taylors FBC, were taught here at Taylors FBC, and sent out from Taylors FBC to serve in missions, children that I have had the privilege to work with from preschool through college (Les Neely, my son, Lee Cunningham, J and K, Travis Kerns, and Ricky Stark) is certainly testimony of how the study of missionaries/missions has impacted the hearts of our children both then and now; we are planting seeds in their hearts that our Lord will use to His service in the future.”
-Lin Cunningham, past M&M Leader
This year more than any other, God has laid on my heart to pray for the children in our Taylors Children Life Group. I felt the need to pray for them early on, but even so, I sometimes wondered if I was serving in the way God wanted, especially on those days that didn’t go so smoothly.
My journey of learning started last year as I began working with a child who will never be able to talk to me with his words, but he speaks with his eyes and his smiles. God pulled my heart towards this sweet child. As a mother I have always enjoyed hearing about my children’s day and what they’d learned. What about this child’s mother? She must feel this way, too. So I tried to catch his moments in pictures and texted them to her so that she could be a part of his day. I wrote notes that said what he did like, “…. tore cotton balls apart to make clouds” for a picture of Jesus’ ascension to heaven. While she seemed to have enjoyed these things, I had the blessing of meeting a very beautiful child and his family.
This year, from the beginning, transitioning to a new room seemed to be more difficult for this life group. We have definitely had some challenges, but I am thankful for every one of those challenges we have faced. Why? Because those challenges have reminded me of the mighty ways God works and the power of prayer.
God helped me to see things even more from others’ points of view. I learned that even though we are working with children, it doesn’t stop there. It’s only the beginning… the starting point to something so much bigger than showing up on Sunday morning. We only have to see through the eyes of God when we look at the children and their families. We need to hear their stories and be there for them.
I have been able to see some beautiful things that I never would have had I not answered God’s call, and I can relay those beautiful things to parents with phone calls, a note home or a quick conversation at the door. It’s a wonderful feeling when someone acknowledges something good in your child. It’s an even more amazing feeling to know as a parent, that God is working in your child’s life and using your child to work in others’ lives. We need to tell the parent, and encourage them that what they teach about Jesus at home and what we teach at church is making a difference. Our faith doesn’t stop or start at the church’s doorsteps.
I treasure the things I’ve been able to share with our families. For example without being prompted, a child who stays more to himself reached out and happily offered blocks to another child who was very vocal about not having as many blocks as he wanted. Wow! This is Jesus at work. This is what parents need to know. Little did I know how many times I could use this example to remind the other child that he DOES have friends or that others in our class care about him. Friends who will make sacrifices for him. One of these children’s parents was able to hear how his child was speaking up and being kind. The other parent was able to hear how her child is accepted and loved by other children and adults, even when he’s having a difficult moment.
There aren’t words to describe how much I love these children. I look at them and wonder how God is going to use them. You, too, are a part of something that God has called you towards. When I say it breathes life into me, I mean it. It’s something you can’t understand if you haven’t felt it.
It makes my heart feel incredibly full of gratitude for this opportunity. I am grateful that God has used those little children to teach me. I am thankful for the many times our church leaders have prayed for all of us. I am blessed to witness parents smile when they realize we really love them and their children.
My husband and I were walking along the beach recently while I was looking for special sea shells. I couldn’t tell him exactly what I was looking for. They didn’t have to be perfect, unbroken shells. I was looking for something unique, something different.
That’s when I realized that we are all the unique, beautiful, broken shells. We are waiting for someone to see the beauty and worth in us. When all along God has already picked us and placed us exactly where He wants us to be. Will you be a person who takes the time to recognize the beauty and worth in a broken shell?
Look for that parent who needs a hug and a positive word of encouragement. Seek out that child and look for his or her special qualities. Don’t let the cracks or rough edges hide the beauty God wants you to see. You can do it, because God picked you, too!
-Elementary Life Group Leader
Carson had watched the older elementary kids go off to CentriKid camp in Anderson for years. Finally, he was old enough to go! But that year we learned that instead of CentriKid camp, Taylors would be hosting something called “Camp in the City.” Honestly, he was bummed at the prospect of not going off to an overnight camp. It wasn’t until Mr. John talked about Camp in the City at Summer Spectacular that Carson started to show some interest. And catching a CITC t-shirt flying through the air that same day didn’t hurt, either!
Somewhat reluctantly, Carson agreed to give this new camp experience a try, and by the time I picked him up at the end of Day One, he could NOT stop raving about it. CITC truly brought the camp experience right to our backdoor. Every morning as we drove up to the Taylors Rec Center doors, he would recognize all the camp counselors by name, jumping and dancing as they welcomed the campers.
It wasn’t until the last day of camp that Carson really put the connection together … they weren’t just “wild & crazy” teenagers … they were “wild & crazy” to share the Gospel! We’re counting down the days to CITC 2015!
When you lead/teach a group you should have to put in a whole lot of time in preparation, therefore you learn so much more about the Bible and the world today. This is true with adults, teens, and elementary classes. There are sometimes opposing views to certain topics, especially in the secular world. This causes me to research more for personal understanding.
It’s hard to match when a child or a teen accepts Jesus in their heart – it’s a wonderful experience. Children ages 8-12 are very easily influenced by their peers. As a teacher/leader, we have the opportunity to listen to their questions and their experiences and lead them to be followers of Christ. It’s much harder to become a believer the older you get.
I enjoy fellowship time with my peers, but can find myself being lazy and passive when I ‘m not teaching. I believe that adults, especially those who are strong, learned Christians, have much to share – especially with the young people.
We should understand that we are all ministers. It’s good to exchange ideas with other adults, but for me it’s better to use my gifts, one of which is teaching, to reach out to others with the Good News of Jesus Christ. And sometimes children and youth just need someone to love them and listen to them.
-Bill and Sharon Williams
“It has been a joy serving in the Preschool Ministry! So awesome to watch God work in the hearts of our precious little ones, growing the seeds of their faith right before our eyes.
Serving alongside my husband has brought us closer and strengthened us as a team.
It is exciting to see how God uses our individual gifts to work together for His glory.”
Amanda Bishop, Age 3
“She came home talking about Indonesia the other week.
So encouraging knowing a three-year-old is listening.
She sings songs all week from the Orange Room or Wednesday night, but the few summary comments are so good to hear too!” – Amanda’s Parents
From Allison Scott
Rhonda’s visit after Truett was born was such a blessing! She took the time to walk us through the process of taking him to the nursery, and made us feel much less anxious about taking him for the first time.
Her prayer over our son and our family meant so much to us!
The first time we brought Truett to the nursery, Rhonda was downstairs to greet us and walked us through the check-in process. The workers were great with him! The check-in process could not be easier!
The encouragement breakfast was great! It was really good to hear from Preschool and Elementary ministers. This gave us a good opportunity to hear their hearts for our children.