The Neighborhood Christian Center realizes that there is no greater investment than our children and youth. They are our future and need to experience healthy relationships and training in order to live out a productive life.
The Center offers programs for children and youth across our community. We also partner with several organizations in order to improve the lives of children and youth we are all working with whether in the school system, low-income neighborhoods, judicial systems, and more. The Neighborhood Christian Center is now offering more than 50 classes and programs weekly that serve children, youth, individuals, and families. The more we work with the children and youth of our community (and their families) we are confronted with the magnitude of the problems they face; dysfunctional families due to broken relationships, incarceration, poverty, child abuse (mental, emotional, physical and sexual), failing grades, peer pressure, and much more. The Center seeks to serve these children and youth with a holistic approach by building relationships with them (and their families) in order to deal with the root issues at hand.
In the past during the school year, there were several ways we stay involved with the children and youth in our community. We host a Backyard Bible Club and teach at SOS (System of Service) In the summer, we host volunteer groups from VBS and churches and have a Summer Youth Leadership Program (more details here).
Backyard Bible Club
Our staff and volunteers love going to teach the children about Jesus after school every week. There are many children who look for a safe place to go after school. The past few years, we have been meeting at Carrie Matthews Recreation Center where children come to do homework, play, eat a snack, and on Mondays, learn about Jesus. When the children see our staff and volunteers coming, they greet them with hugs and stories from school that day. After a snack and playtime, they read or tell a story from the Bible and usually follow it with a craft or art project.
At Christmas time, we go to Carrie Matthews, 3rd Street Boys & Girls Club, and St Paul Lutheran and have a Christmas Party. There are different stations we send small groups of children to. At one station, they choose a Christmas gift for two special people in their life. Then they take their gifts to the wrapping station where volunteers help wrap the presents. Now each child has two gifts to give on Christmas. They always love to hear the Christmas story and decorate (and eat!) cookies.
The System of Services (SOS) programs are designed to provide strong support for the youth experiencing at-risk situations. On Wednesdays, Sandra Pina, Bailey Connor and Trevia Burks look forward to mentoring and ministering youth at SOS. Each week, they teach different Bible Studies and Life Skills that will help the students now and also in the future. Not only do they teach them, but in return, they learn from them. Although these students may have had a brush with the law or suspended from school, they are very bright and need someone to listen to what they have to say and give one-on-one attention. Sometimes the students choose the topic then the leaders research and prepare to discuss that topic the following week. It is a blessing and an honor to be a part of their lives. The Word says to judge not and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Going to SOS is an opportunity to share Jesus and His love for the students. After the lesson, there is time to discuss any issues or concerns. At the end of each class, a leader prays blessings upon their lives.
First Priority at West Morgan Middle School meets every Wednesday morning during the school year in the gym. We help prepare and train students to be leaders. They learn how to minister to their friends and classmates as well as lead the weekly meetings. Five of the students each week share responsibilities such as opening in prayer, sharing each week something about the theme, and introducing a special speaker. As leaders, we build relationships with the students and help them open up when it comes to sharing about Jesus!